Sandy DicksonView all articles by Sandy Dickson
The Night Star gazing lost its luster
I had recently moved 500 miles back to my original
Now I had just moved into it with the time up to now spent unpacking and organizing things, finding a place for everything. Most of that being done, I had then taken a brief trip to
We had only been settled into the house a few days together by this crisp early November night, when I remembered that it was one of those rare evenings when there was to be a meteor shower. I had never seen a meteor shower and was too tired to stay up for it, but decided to go to sleep and wake up at the later hour when it was to begin taking place.
So that’s what I did. It must have been a bit after 11:30 p.m. when I awakened and realized it was to begin happening. I donned my jacket over my pajamas and slid the sliding door open off my bedroom to the upstairs deck, closing it behind me as I stepped onto the deck, lest I let the cold air in and freeze my bedroom. The November night air was mighty brisk, but I reasoned I could take it, as long as it didn’t take too long. Trouble was, there was such a cloud cover, I couldn‘t even see any stars in the first place.
Not wanting to give up so easily, I reasoned that there may be one or two stars that strayed below the cloud canopy that I didn’t want to miss. It may be 1000 years before this happened again.
I stubbornly stayed out there enduring the nippy air, until I acquiesced that no stars were going to show up. Now I turned to let myself back in. What? The sliding door wouldn’t slide. How can that be? There isn’t even a lock on it from the outside!
This little neighborhood street was totally quiet, with not even a car in sight. How was I going to get out of this mess?
I knew no amount of yelling could rouse Rose, whose room was a floor below me on the other side of the house. I thought of taking my pajama bottoms off, tying a leg to the railing and lowering myself over it, dropping onto the deck below it, which is off the kitchen on the first floor. Then I could get the key hidden outside and let myself in. But if I broke something (like a body part) when I landed on the hard wooden surface, I would by lying there incapacitated without any pajama bottoms and freezing all night besides. A James Bond maneuver may not be the wisest choice, I decided.
What were my options? As I stood there pondering this, the rectification of this pickle looked very dim. I stood with my hands on the railing looking hopelessly over the neighborhood with nothing particular in mind. Suddenly the tall yard light went on of the neighbor right across my driveway. I couldn’t see anything but the light, because it was between his house and garage and both of
“Hello,” I called. “Can you help me?” I didn’t even know the names of the neighbors yet.
A questioning answer came. “Hello?” It was as if he wasn’t quite sure he was not hearing things.
“Hi, I’m your neighbor, Sandy.” Can you help me?”
“Where are you?”
“I’m next door. I locked myself out on the deck.”
Now he walked around his house and into my driveway, peering up at me quizzically, surely wondering what sort of nut had moved in next to him. He had gone outside to let his dog out.
"Where are you?" he asked as he looked to his right and left.
"I'm up here, on the upper deck," I answered.
Now he looked up and spotted me and a smile crossed his face. Somehow it didn't feel appropriate to say something like "Wipe that sill grin off your face." so I didn't.
“How did you do that?” he asked, trying not to chortle.
“I think the former tenants had a pole propped up against the door as a way to lock the sliding door from inside," I explained. "It fell down when I slid it open. I didn’t know it was there. Can you call the lady that lives with me and tell her to come upstairs and take the pole out of the way so I can open the door?”
He chuckled and agreed, retreating back to his house for a piece of paper to write the number down I was going to dictate to him. When he returned, I gave him her number. He said he would call her and left to do so. I was really glad she had her own separate number, otherwise, had he called my number, the answering machine would have picked it up, I would have heard my very own message from just on the other side of the door and Rose would never have been reached.
I really hated to disturb her because walking up steps was very difficult for her with her shortness-of-breath, but especially at night when she was really exhausted from just being up and functioning all day. She always said if she ever came upstairs, it had to be in the morning when she was fresh and more full of energy. Now it was midnight.
She later told me that when the phone awakened her, the male voice on the other end said, “Now, don’t hang up. This is your neighbor, but it isn’t a prank phone call.
It wasn’t long afterhe had retreated, I saw the sliding door curtains part as Rose appeared on the other side. I pointed to the pole lying flat along the door track. She was laughing so hard, she could hardly bend over to secure it, but she managed. Once it was removed, I slid the door open and re-entered my room. Brrrrr. I was really glad to get inside, as well as very grateful to my neighbor and also to Rose, of course, who laughed about that for a very time.
I haven’t lived that story down yet in my family--of course they heard about it-- even though I swear there was nothing I could do to prevent the circumstance. I mean, how was I to know there was a dad-gummed pole propped up in the doorframe by a former tenant? And I didn’t even get to see any stars, though I might have if I had dropped down on the lower deck with a big enough thunk.