Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Alone

Being 12 years old gave me the gift of coming home to an empty house. Gone were the days of sitters, and, as a newly minted seventh grader whose school was released earlier than my brothers’ were, I had the house to myself for I dunno – an hour? Two hours?

That time was mine, and I owned it. I made drippy oozy cheese quesadillas in the oven and ate them over homework. I had taboo after school mini-hangouts with questionable eighth graders, and long, rambling walks home with friends. We talked about periods, bras, classes, teachers, boys, and everything between.

On one of those days, our house phone rang, and I answered, anticipating a friend, a something. The telephone back then held more possibility than it does now – we never knew who might be on the other end. It could be a boy! Or a friend inviting me for a swim. It could be the school calling to say that my latest report card hadn’t yet been signed and sent, and if that were the case, I was there to intercept the call, saying “yes, this is Kristi’s mother.”

I answered.

“Hello?”

“I’m watching you.”

Three simple words from the voice on the other end. Terrifying.

“Who is this?” I asked, still not sure whether it was a joke from a friend and already worried that it wasn’t because his voice sounded grownup.

“I know your father,” he said.

“Look out the window,” he said. I placed the phone on the desk near the kitchen because back then, phones were screwed into walls, their receivers tethered to their bases with coils. I ran around the house to check that the doors were locked and stole a brief glance out the window from my dad’s office.

Our house sat on top of a hill, the private driveway long and lonely. I was sure his car was parked at the end of it, hidden by the neighbor’s house.

I came back to the phone. “I don’t see anything,” I said.

I no longer remember how much of the rest of the conversation volleyed audibly between us and which parts my imagination filled in, but there were words. Threats. Me, telling him that my dad would never forgive him. Something like that, anyway. I don’t remember the words between his middle and his last, when he again said “I’m watching you,” and hung up.

I hid under the desk, counting, for what may have been a minute or an hour. I got up and called my dad at work. At the sound of his voice, I started bawling and asked him if somebody was out to get him. That a man he knew (worked with? that seemed reasonable.) was watching me.

My dad came home. Two police officers came.

There was no car at the end of the driveway. Nobody was there. I was alone.

*

I was 23 and house sitting in Laguna Beach. I’d recently lost my job and wasn’t sure what to do with my life. I may have been with the one I loved but also thinking about being ½ between boys, or back with the one I loved, or disappointed with the one that I loved who didn’t love me the way that I loved him.

I was at the beach, at a house only steps away from the water. One day, I parked my fanny pack and my towel in the sand and waded out to the waves. I stood alone. I asked God and the universe to help me. To help me to know what to do. A wave that didn’t look any different from the rest – she was no larger or choppier than her sisters – came and knocked me on my ass. It flipped me, and pushed my face into the sand on the ocean floor. It hurdled me over again, and, as I tried to gain my footing, I wondered briefly whether I would drown.

Wondering whether I would drown felt strangely calm, while also like NO.

Eventually, I stood, adjusted my suit, and looked around to see whether anybody was running to help.

Nobody saw. I was alone. I went back to my towel and my fanny pack, sat down, and laughed. Big, awesome, cool tears down the cheeks kind of laugh. I shouted “Thank you!” to everybody and nobody. I stopped at the burger place up the road while walking back to the house. I accidentally ordered the burger with egg on top. Nobody saw me eat it. It was less nasty than I thought it would be. I was alone.

*

I was a mom, when age becomes less important, the day that my son and I were driving in the car and he told me that he needs to see a doctor because his mouth is broken. After all, a boy on the bus had told him so and that’s what kindergartners care about. I was with my son the second time the same boy told Tucker that he needs speech therapy (more of the story can be found on Finding Ninee’s Facebook page) because he sounds like a baby. After tucking him into bed and saying goodnight to my husband, I was alone as I sat on our stoop outside, wondering how to change this world. Wondering about the nature of the nugget inside each of us that laughs and picks on the people in this world who need our love the most. When they feel broken. When they’re alone.

*

I am sitting at my computer, wondering again how to find time to finish these sentences before the final hour, while thinking about all of you – spread over the planet also thinking about today’s sentence, and feeling ready to publish or not ready or ready but unsure or excited and as I sit here in my office, my son hopefully snoring upstairs, I am alone. Except that I’m not. Ever. Because of you. Thank you.

We are never alone even when we feel that we are - findingninee.com

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather together to share words related to a sentence prompt. This week’s was”No one was around when it happened…”
Hosts: Me, Kristi from Finding Ninee
Co-hosts: Lisa of Flingo and this week’s sentence thinker upper, and Jessica of Ramblings of an ADD Mommy.

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  • Dana - It’s funny how we can be physically alone but feel surrounded by others, or be physically with others but still feel alone. I don’t like feeling that way, and fortunately I don’t very often.

    That guy who called you? CREEPY. I would have peed in my pants.May 7, 2015 – 10:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Funny, sad, and weird and also kinda amazing how we’re with others when alone and only with ourselves in a crowd I think… And yeah,that stupid phone call was awful!!!May 8, 2015 – 11:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - That first story? Scary as shit!! I agree that alone is many things in life, but I also believe we can be alone, but not necessarily lonely and vice versa.May 7, 2015 – 10:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - I sit here locked alone locked out my damn blog site because of too many phony log-in attempts. However, I’m now glad it happened. I toddled over here and read this remarkable post. I was chilled at the first example, alarmed at the second, crushed with the third and heartwarmed by the fourth. Nice job, Kristi.May 7, 2015 – 11:38 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH UGH to being locked out of your blog and by now, obviously, as I was gifted with reading your post, you’re back in. Thanks, huge, Kelly.May 9, 2015 – 11:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicki - I’ve had that happen to me, in the waves. Scary as hell but then also strangely exhilarating. Like you conquered the water or something!
    Amazing vignettes, beautifully told. And yes… you, we, are not alone. Thank you Kristi. <3May 8, 2015 – 12:53 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - The waves! I can remember it so so clearly and yet, tend to forget the power of conquering the water because yes, it was that, or something like the waters saying “fine, it’s okay, you can go” which is almost the same. Thank YOU. <3May 9, 2015 – 11:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb - Omg that first story was terrifying. Just the kind of nightmare scenario I was always afraid would happen at that age but never did. Jesus. As for the rest no you are not alone. But you are. But not. I get it. XoMay 8, 2015 – 1:00 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I love that you get it and always count on you to (with no pressure of course).May 10, 2015 – 12:14 amReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Aw, Kristi I am seriously just wanting you to know that you are most definitely not alone and sending some big extra hugs to you tonight after reading your beautiful words. Thank you for just being you always.May 8, 2015 – 2:03 amReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Oh my gosh… that first story is TERRIFYING!!! Did you ever find out who that was? That would have RUINED me for years…

    ANd the second story… well you know what I think about it, don’t ya? Yeah… God has a way of getting our attention!! He knocked you DOWN girl with a gentle wave… hmm. But did he knock sense into you? (lol- that sounds kinda momish, doesn’t it?) I mean, revelation of course..

    And the third makes me so so sad. I want to hold that boy in my arms and never let anyone EVER hurt him. I can only imagine how you feel, mama.

    It’s amazing to know you are connected, isn’t it? Yeah… there’s so much comfort and joy and peace in that truth. <3May 8, 2015 – 2:50 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Well said…Alone yet not really. Our thoughts and our mind can never leave us alone huh 😉
    The incident as a school kid must have been scary. Glad it turned out fine.
    xoxoMay 8, 2015 – 3:27 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Awww love your ending! I was thinking about you all at 9:53ish when your e-mail came through and I was trying to write. I was like well I won’t be 4th today 😉

    Oh that was a creepy phone call. I had a stalker in 9th grade. Still no caller ID. I don’t know if the boy eventually told me his name or how it was found out. He went to another school and was already on probation or something like that. At the time daddy either still worked for the depart of Youth Services or he knew someone and once it was “handled” I never got a call again. But I use to think he was somewhere in the shadows at school watching me. Warren Brown. That was the name. I don’t care anything about respecting his privacy. Creep.

    I also had a much younger beach experience where I felt the sand slipping under my feet and couldn’t seem to gain the momentum to walk out of it. I was waist deep and down shore a little out of sight before I was able to get out. No one had notice. Times have certainly changed.May 8, 2015 – 6:00 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Stupid Warren Brown deserves no privacy any longer and honestly, I have to so much wonder what your Daddy or his friends DID to “handle” it. It seems so easy to feel that they handled it when we are young but can you please ask for me? I’d love to know, especially now that I’m the mom handling!!
      Yikes to that you had the same scary sand face tumble experience in the waves!!! Glad we were both okay!!May 10, 2015 – 12:17 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - HEY THERE (look who’s been in my brain)
    I remember THIS! I guess it’s nice to know we haven’t lost our touch *raises eyebrow*

    I’m glad there was no car at the end of the drive. VERY glad the wave let you go. INCREDIBLY glad that Tucker has such an awesome, warrior mama who IS ALREADY changing the world for him. And…no. You’re not alone (except you are but not).

    Get out of my brain, now.May 8, 2015 – 6:02 amReplyCancel

  • Bev - Equal parts scary and tugging at your heart. That first story, made my heart speed up a bit reading it. And the one about your son, just breaks my heart. It’s amazing the cruelty we can each have inside of us.May 8, 2015 – 6:13 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know – the cruelty breaks me at times. But also that the kids don’t get it and that that being where the beauty in life lies, maybe???May 10, 2015 – 12:18 amReplyCancel

  • ivy - that first one was terrifying… something similar happened during my after school time… awful memories… I love that your dad came and called the cops… I had a stalker later in life… argh…. I hate that you have to worry so much for your boy…cuz the world… but love that you do… cuz Moms…May 8, 2015 – 6:31 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH to something similar happening to you – sucky!! And more sucky that you had a stalker more recently. But yeah the world and yeah, moms…May 10, 2015 – 12:19 amReplyCancel

  • christine - The neighborhood in which we lived when I was in middle school reportedly had a peeping tom. In the same (large) neighborhood, a classmate of mine was raped by a stranger while she was babysitting. He broke in through the basement. When we were in 6th grade. Your terrifying story brought all those fears right on back. I hated to be alone, especially at night. Still do, really.

    Funny how being knocked on your ass by a wave helps clarify things. 🙂

    Still sad that Tucker heard such meanness from a kid.May 8, 2015 – 6:54 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OM your poor 6th grade friend and poor you and how terrifying!! YIKES. I’m so sorry to have triggered the fear for you and 🙁 and HAPPY that you have a lovely house full of awesome people.May 10, 2015 – 12:20 amReplyCancel

  • Allie - Love this Kristi (and you are so primed for your retreat:)). I had chills reading about the phone call. And my heart breaks every time I read about the broken mouth:(. And you are definitely not alone. Your tribe has your back!May 8, 2015 – 9:05 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH (unsaid but you know) and yeah, that phone call SUCKED and some little booger telling Tucker he’s broken in any way… yup. Thank you, my tribe and thank you, YOU!May 10, 2015 – 12:22 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah - terfufying, start to finish.May 8, 2015 – 12:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Terrifying!!! What isn’t my phone correcting my typos?May 8, 2015 – 12:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Phones are stupid but also smarter than us and try to see whether we are still humans. I think.May 10, 2015 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Wow! That first one totally creeped me out! That must have been so scary. I love that quote. As a mom who rarely gets alone time, I have a whole new appreciation for solitude, but, really, we aren’t alone ever. Most of the time, I ;m glad for that!May 8, 2015 – 12:43 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - So so scary and yeah, I love solitude too but also knowing I’m never really alone!May 10, 2015 – 12:31 amReplyCancel

  • Christine Sass Organ - What a great post. First, I need to know more about that caller? What happened? Did you ever find out who it was? And also, yes, this never really alone thing with writing/blogging. Sometimes I feel completely alone – like no one is reading my words – but then out of nowhere someone will click like or leave a comment, and then I remember that I’m not.May 8, 2015 – 2:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - The phone call must have been terrifying – it was terrifying to read about it. And then it was so uplifting the idea that our ripples effect people even when we’re alone!May 8, 2015 – 3:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Elizabeth – the phone call WAS terrifying. I talked to my dad on the phone tonight and he’d forgotten about it but remembered after reading it and he agreed.May 10, 2015 – 10:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica Roberts - This gave me shivers. You’re not alone.May 8, 2015 – 5:15 pmReplyCancel

  • A.J. Goode - I like the way you said that — alone, but not really. When I’m alone in the house because the kids are at school, it’s one thing. When I’m alone because it’s their week with their dad, it’s something completely different.

    And I LOVE the fact that being part of this keeps you from being completely alone.This is a great group to be a part of!May 8, 2015 – 6:12 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I so know what you mean about the different degrees of alone – when the kids are at school – it’s more fine, somehow. Thank you for being a part of this group!May 10, 2015 – 10:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Another wonderful post with a very sweet ending. I have to admit though, I got chills reading the first part. Did you ever find out who the guy on the phone was?May 8, 2015 – 11:56 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - We never did find out who the guy was and thank you! Happy Mother’s Day!May 10, 2015 – 10:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Alison Wilkinson - This was so beautiful. I love your interpretation of this prompt.May 9, 2015 – 2:04 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - So what did you decide to do, when you wondered how to change the world? Are you doing it now? I’d like read your post about what you wound up doing once you got up from that front stoop.

    And no, you’re not alone.May 9, 2015 – 2:10 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - Wow Kristi, I was with you in every one of these scenarios. There are so many ways for us to be alone. That first one was really unsettling and every teenager’s nightmare, then the one at the beach was almost necessary for you to be on your own. The one with Tucker is making sure he’s not alone. What a wonderful threaded journey. You are most certainly not alone. xoMay 9, 2015 – 3:25 amReplyCancel

  • Callie Feyen - Kristi, I just love how this is constructed. I love the layers (or, maybe I should write ripples), and how each instance of your being alone illuminated an aspect of how you the strength that was growing inside of you. Really, great piece.May 9, 2015 – 9:02 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks, Callie! I love the way you phrase it – that you make it sound better than it is about the strength… and Happy Happy Mother’s Day!May 10, 2015 – 10:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Sara Pittman - This was so awesome!!!! You describe the scenarios SO well!! Each one was relatable, and I’m very happy no weirdo was waiting at the end of the drive and that you enjoyed your fried egg burger (:May 9, 2015 – 3:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - You’re not alone. I’d even eat a burger with egg on it for you.
    That first story is terrifying!! The second one = less so. I like that.
    The third one is terrifying too. I’d like to personally break the mouth of any kid who gives Tucker a hard time.
    Broken mouth, my foot.May 9, 2015 – 8:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You’d eat a burger with egg on it for me? Holy cow wow. I’m not even sure I’d eat one these days for me so thanks 🙂 LOL and yeah, the first was totally terrifying. And feel free to get your Jersey butt down here and protect my kiddo (or photograph him because he is beautiful). xoMay 10, 2015 – 10:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica Hinton - This is beautiful, Kristi! Just beautiful.May 9, 2015 – 9:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Meredith Sherr Altschuler - Beautiful (and you had me hooked with that beginning – whoah!) Amazing what a writing prompt can do when a terrific writer gets their hands on it — thank you for sharing!May 10, 2015 – 1:56 amReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - OMgosh,

    the first story reminds me of that CREEPY movie when that guy calls the babysitter asking, “Have you checked the children?”

    Everything you write captures my heart & soul, darling. xxMay 10, 2015 – 11:05 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG I don’t know that movie but yowza. Oh!! Wait. Scream right? Argh!!!
      And back at you to the heart and soul you. xxooMay 10, 2015 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Beth Siebert - You are changing the world with each post, every shared thought and your generosity. The love you have for your son is so great that it is slowly changing the world one reader at a time.

    Trust in this. Your words are ripples and just because we can not see how far they go out and how they change the surface immediately does not mean it is not occurring. Kindergarteners, sadky so, do not read your blog.

    I wonder if Tucker could write how it feels when other people criticism him and read it to his class.

    You build and. Relate empathy with loving generous words. You are changing the world.May 10, 2015 – 10:52 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You are so kind and generous and I thank you so so much for your sweet words!! xoxo also? YOU are changing the world – raising awareness and hope and doing the best of the good stuff, always.May 10, 2015 – 11:01 pmReplyCancel

      • Beth Siebert - You are leading the pack sweetie. Never forget that! I am just following in your foot steps on your forum no less.

        Happy Mother’s Day and we are never alone either because we have you! Thank you!!!May 10, 2015 – 11:27 pmReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - XO XO thank you! Not leading. Just in. Grateful for people like you!May 12, 2015 – 10:54 pmReplyCancel

          • Beth Siebert - You are a great advocate. Thank goodness you are in… A little less hard with you on our side. Thank you.May 12, 2015 – 11:07 pm

  • Roshni - Oh gosh! That first story was so scary! What a creep!!
    I’m so glad that things worked out so well for you all with regard to the bullying! So nice to see that the school went into action so swiftly!May 11, 2015 – 6:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Roshni!! And yeah, what a creep to the first story!!! Also me, too, when it comes to the bullying.May 12, 2015 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - I can’t even pick out my favorite part of this post, but perhaps it’s the way you put us right there with you in every instance, the fear, the recognition, the anger, the despair, even. I do wish this world was a beautiful enough place for a soul like yours. I’m glad you’re in it with us, all the same.May 12, 2015 – 10:04 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, Eli! I’m so glad that I’m in this world with YOU. You make it a better place, for real. Thank you.May 12, 2015 – 10:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Wow, Kristi. Your post had be at the edge of my chair, and temporarily ignoring my not-so-sleeping little ones yelling for another “check.” It was not at all what I expected to find. Thank you.May 13, 2015 – 10:31 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much Lauren. For reading, for commenting, for sharing through another “check,” another glass of water another…May 15, 2015 – 1:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Jolene @ Different Dream for My Child - This is an excellent look at both sides of being alone. But I still wish the man who called you hadn’t done it. Thanks for adding this to DifferentDream.com!May 15, 2015 – 6:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Jolene! I wish the man who called me hadn’t done it either. Funny though, until thinking about the prompt of being alone, I really hadn’t thought of it in years. Still though… thank you for Different Dream!May 15, 2015 – 9:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Kim - Oh – that phone call sounds terrifying!!!
    I feel alone a lot – blogging has been one of the best things ever. Sadly, I’m blogging less and less often these days and feel less connected.May 16, 2015 – 10:53 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - So sorry to hear you’re blogging less although I get it and haven’t blogged in almost two weeks and feel guilty but also whatever about it… xoxo here’s to feeling more connected!!May 18, 2015 – 11:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristina - I love this. I’ve been feeling very alone in motherhood lately and I think this captures those feelings of excitement, joy, and fear of being alone.May 19, 2015 – 1:19 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m so sorry to read that you’re feeling alone in motherhood these days, Kristina. That’s so hard, and I’ve been there way too often. Sending hugs and love your way.May 21, 2015 – 6:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Honey - Wow. I can’t even imagine how scary that phone call was when you were 12. Thank goodness everything turned out ok. Very true we are never alone!May 20, 2015 – 7:55 amReplyCancel

  • Tarana Khan - I can imagine how that phone call must have shaken you inside. And yes, when your child face something like that, it can make you feel so helpless and alone.May 21, 2015 – 3:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - The phone call was really scary Tarana! And yeah, the whole kids being mean stuff makes me feel so alone and worried.May 21, 2015 – 6:10 pmReplyCancel

  • meredith - Love this! It was both chilling and comforting at the same time! You always wrote in a way that makes me think.May 21, 2015 – 6:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - Oh my God, that gave me chills. A whole bunch of times. I’m so glad I read that… ironically, it made ME feel less alone, and connected to you. xoxoMay 21, 2015 – 8:08 pmReplyCancel

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