When I left Chad that night, I didn't have a plan. All I knew for certain was that I didn't plan to go back.
The next day, when I knew he'd be at work, I went back to the apartment and cleaned out everything that was mine as quickly as I could. I packed it all into my little Datsun 610, which gives you an idea of how little I owned and drove out to Dad's place to lick my wounds.
After this, things are a bit of a blur for a few weeks. The few details I recall were that I somehow communicated to Chad that I was not going to come back, that someone communicated to me Chad's crazed gun waving rage and that I might be in danger. I have the idea in my head that Dad communicated to Chad that if he didn't leave me alone, he'd be confronted with my 6'4" father.
And then there wasn't anything else. It seems like I felt a few days of drama over the issue with the gun. I'm sure I told people that I thought Chad might kill me, or perhaps himself. That would have been like the victim version of me that dominated at that point in my life.
By that time, I'd gotten a job at a local call center and was regularly conducting surveys with unsuspecting people about their financial information. I was dressing professionally and I felt I was going to do well. I saw myself as a career woman.
I laugh at that now. It was an entry level, minimum wage position and it offered no place to go, unless I wanted to be the supervisor at the end of the row of cubicles. If I leaned my chair back, I could see the woman at the end, too much make-up. scraggly dyed-black hair and pinched mouth from years of smoking. She proudly sported a nasty disposition to match her appearance and to be honest, the package did not appeal.
First, I needed to figure out my living situation. I was right back to the farm in Egypt with no running water and I didn't want to stay. My only company were a few chickens and ducks since Dad spent most of his time in town with his current girlfriend.
I set about running through my contacts to see who might have a place I could live. It was a short list and the options were rather pathetic. I settled on the best one, the ONLY one. A room was available at the home of my high-school best friend Ingrid. Ingrid had become pregnant her Junior year of high school and married the father of her child. Her room had remained empty, perhaps her parents would allow me to rent it.
I'd stayed the night with Ingrid a few times and I knew her family to be eccentric, but there was electricity at least.......and people. Electricity??.....eccentricity???......I went with electric.
Ingrid's family home was situated at least as far out in the boonies as Dad's and quite possibly there was just as much dirt road to traverse to get there. But, like I said, the lure of electricity was enough to tempt me and so I moved in within about 3 weeks of having left Chad.
This is where my memory gets a little fuzzy and I can't quite recall the order of events accurately so I hope the reader will bear with me as I may jump around a bit telling about the next 8 months.
If my family was dysfunctional, this family was...........well, what would be worse than that? Really dysfunctional I guess!!! I'll start by setting the stage, perhaps that will help you to get a picture.
The Hansen home sat on 5 acres of desert, but since it was near a riparian area, it had some beautiful large Cottonwood trees and boasted a more welcoming feel than much of the surrounding areas. The house, a double wide mobile home of around 1800 square feet, sat in the center of the property. On two sides of the house, but set apart from it by a distance of perhaps 75 feet, were rows of dog kennels, the house itself being fenced in with standard box wire fencing.
One needed to enter at a gate into a small front garden, hand tended by the lady of the house. Up onto the porch you'd go to access the front door. That is where the beauty stopped.
(Sitting in the home made garden swing with an unnamed dog!)
On entering, you found yourself in a long, dark front room. There was a bed on the left, though you couldn't see if from the door, for the room was completely full of mismatched cabinets, tables and even an old piano. The room was always kept dim (did it even have any lights at all?) with only a narrow path through the furniture to the family living area. This was the dividing line of the house, where the two halves of the double-wide came together.
Behind the bed was a small room that served as a sewing/craft room for Mrs. Hansen. At the opposite end was another bedroom, which I believe belonged to an older brother who I don't recall ever having met. This front portion of the room was nearly never used, with the family congregating in the back half of the house.
Once you walked through the archway into the back half, you the kitchen and dining area were to the right, with a small bedroom behind that (this was the room I rented). Right in front of you was the family area, with a small bar area on the left end of that room. This actually had a door too it and was perhaps 7 by 3. It had an open counter between it and the living area. Behind that was the Master Bedroom and through this the room was the home's only functional shower and toilet. Directly behind the living area was the other bathroom which had an occasionally functional toilet and a mirror, but no running water otherwise. A small hallway led to this bathroom and behind it was a washer followed by an added on room belonging to the youngest son. Across from that was another small added on room belonging to the youngest daughter.
(This is me in my room with Sapphire Blue, the kitten I bought from the Hansens, and one of the Dachshund puppies that lived in the house.)
The result a family of 4 living in about 900 hundred square feet, though they had much more space available to them in the front of the house. There is of course, nothing wrong with living in smaller spaces, it's becoming quite the fad these days to live tiny, but this seemed odd to me due to the fact that nearly half of their space was taken up as storage for unused belongings.
Well.....and then there is the issue of all the dogs.
There were a number of things which made living in this environment challenging, but the dogs might have been the one of the most challenging for me personally. The family raised and sold dogs, quite a few breeds of them. You might refer to this as a puppy mill. They bred Dachshunds, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Doberman Pinschers, and quite a few other larger breeds. Then, they also began breeding Himalayan Cats. All in all, there were over 80 dogs on the premises along with a variety of other animals of the farm variety.
This would have been no problem, save for the fact that Mrs. Hansen was rather insistent in requiring all the small dogs to sleep inside the house and NOT in kennels. These furry little scourges had the run of the house all night long. I never counted how many dogs roamed the house at night, but I can tell you that walking through the house in the middle of the night or the next morning was an exercise in dodging land mines. They were allowed to jump freely onto the bed in the Master Bedroom where they released quite a few smelly packages for Mrs. Hansen's children to clean up each day. Yes, I said IN THE BED. The couches, chairs and carpets also provided a handy toiletting spot for these wretched creatures. I did all I could to keep my own bedroom door firmly closed, but my efforts didn't always pay off.
And then, there were the people.