I was feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with work, overwhelmed with Gray House projects, overwhelmed with the house being messy from lack of time to clean due to work and Gray House projects. It had been a long week. Brent has not been feeling well and my neck is still really sore from the snake “incident” on Monday.
The snake incident, that is a long story. A decent size black snake tried to come in the house when I opened the back door Monday morning to shake out a rug. He got his head in before I realized what it was. I screamed so loud that I scared the snake and he jumped back. I also recoiled so hard that I jerked my neck out of place. I shook the rug in the process of trying to turn it into a shield and doused the snake with the excess cat litter inside the rug. The snake apparently didn’t like cat litter or the sound of my shriek and retreated to the hole between our house and the concrete patio. Then he popped back out and just stared at me. I have a sensitive neck so whenever I violently give myself whiplash, as in this case, I tend to be really sore for quite awhile. I plan on suing this snake for the emotional stress associated with my sore neck.
Okay, I guess it wasn’t that long of a story.
Needless to say it had been a long week and all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. I was in one of those frustrated moods where I didn’t want to say anything or do anything. Usually when either Brent or I are feeling overwhelmed we will go for a walk to our neighborhood park for a change of scenery and to have uninterrupted conversation. I was reluctant but he managed to pull me off the couch (literally) and we started our walk.
The neighborhood park is about eight houses down from our house and sits at the end of our street. It is a large, gorgeous park that has a playground and a beautiful lake view with a dock for fishing. There are a plethora of trees and small rolling green hills. It is never crowded. Every time we go to the park we maybe run into one or two people at most.
This is probably because it is gated. There are two entrances, one in our neighborhood and one in the neighborhood next to ours. When we moved in we had to show proof of our residence so we could get a key fob to open the magnetized gate. All of our neighbors warned us to not sneak in or lose your key fob because otherwise you would get stuck in there. Once you go in you can only get out using the key. We never had any problem getting in or out of the park, until last night.
Our favorite way to unwind is to walk down to this bench that faces the water where we sit and talk. Sometimes we vent our frustrations; sometimes we brainstorm ideas for projects. As we sat and talked I felt my mood starting to lighten. It felt good to talk through all of the things that were causing us stress this week. I guess the conversation was really helping because we lost track of time. It was just the two of us in this giant, beautiful park at dusk talking about life. The night was starting to turn around.
After we were pretty much all talked out, we walked back towards the gate to go home. It was still fairly light out so it didn’t even dawn on us to look and see what time it was. As we got to the gate Brent held the key up to it. It flashed red. He did it again. It flashed red again. He pushed on the gate but it wouldn’t budge. “Ut oh.” He said. We looked at each other in shock. The gate is magnetized but the force is stronger than we could push. Finally, I looked at my watch. It said 8:30. “It’s after 8.” I said. “That sign on the outside of the gate says the park gate will be locked at 8PM. You don’t think they actually meant that, do you?”
I have passed that sign numerous times but I always thought it was more of a suggestion. As in, “Hey, better not be in the park after dark it might not be safe”. I didn’t think it actually meant the gate would stop working at exactly 8PM, especially if you are trying to get OUT.
We walked up and down the fence trying to look for a place we could squeeze through or bend or climb over. Thanks HOA for charging us a ridiculous amount of money to build a sturdy gate that we can’t escape from. It was at this point that we were stumped. Hmmm…we were stuck in our own neighborhood park. Now I know how caged animals feel. We were just staring through the bars longing to be on the other side.
It didn’t matter if anyone else came along; the gate wasn’t going to open. It was starting to look like we were going to be doing some impromptu overnight camping in our neighborhood park. I guess we could have used the one cell phone we had to call my dad to come bring his ladder or something but we were using our last 3% of battery to Instagram in real time our crisis. We obviously have priorities.
Our options were limited so I started climbing the fence at the point where it opens for cars to enter because there was a place to put your feet. But even that part was pretty high with nowhere to put your feet back on the other side. We debated which one of us was going to go over first but jumping from that high onto concrete was starting to freak me out. I could foresee a sprained ankle in my future. Remember I am the girl who hurt her neck at the SIGHT of a snake.
Then I had an idea. We could jump the gate at the other neighborhood entrance and walk all the way back around to our street. That gate was much shorter. It was a more realistic gate jump. So we get to the gate and get over it no problem. By the time we get into this other neighborhood the sun is setting and it is getting dark out.
We start walking down the unfamiliar street and we saw a deer. Then another deer and another deer, they were just lounging in front yards. As we get further down the road we saw a herd of almost 30 deer. We walked right into the group. They were on all sides of us. It was bizarre. They just stood there starting at us until they got spooked when a tiny dachshund started chasing and barking at us. By this point all we could do was laugh. This night was turning into one for the books for sure. After walking in the dark for some time we finally came to the end of the street.
It was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t see what was up ahead. “Ut oh.” Brent said with a laugh. “What now!?” I asked. There was another gate. As we got closer we could see that this in fact was a gated community and this gate was much higher then the first gate.
We saw headlights coming towards us signaling that a car was coming through the gate. “Run!” I yelled. And we took off sprinting down the middle of the road to see if we could make it through the gate which was now closing. Remember we were not feeling in top shape this week so if this were Jurassic World the dinosaur would have eaten us. It closed right as we were approaching it. We were still trapped.
Now I know why the deer had made themselves at home and didn’t seem in any big hurry. They entered this neighborhood and now they can never get out. I knew the feeling. We were being held captive in our own suburban community.
We contemplated on what to do. Should we walk all the way back and attempt jumping over our gate again? Nah, we are too tired for that. So we just waited by the gate of the entrance to this neighborhood in the dark hoping someone would be leaving or coming home late. By now it was about 9:00pm. We walked to the park around 7pm. I never thought I would be trapped in a gated community. I guess I never realized that you could only leave if you had a car.
Luckily, after about 15 minutes a car pulled up to the gate to leave and we snuck out behind it. Then we walked down the street until we found a back entrance to our neighborhood and walked all the way through it until we got back to our house.
That was the longest walk to our park ever. EVER. By the end of the night we were laughing and our moods had brightened considerably and we rewarded ourselves for our great escape with a chai tea latte.
I learned several important lessons last night.
1 – Pay more attention to signs. Apparently they actually mean what they say.
2 – Loosing track of time is romantic unless it means you might end up sleeping in a park.
3 – You don’t always have to travel far for an adventure.
4 – An unexpected adventure with your best friend will make any day better.