Friday, August 19, 2011

Steal your face right off your head

When we first got our mortgage at this great little ranch in suburbia OH that I live, I am pretty sure there was a line that specifically said "piece of mind". It isn't that piece of mind that includes living in a place with your own garage...but that piece of mind that includes being able to leave your car unlocked in the driveway, keys in ignition and know the next morning that you can jump in ...beep beep and head off to work. So the other day when I heard there were break ins in our neighborhood...I was so offended and angered. What gives someone the right to go into someone one's personal space and wreak such havoc.

Its not like I am a stranger to break ins. Quite the contrary. I remember a night, circa 2001. It was months after 911. We lived in a time of uncertainty and a time when life as anyone knew it would change in an instant. I was working as a server/bartender at the time. Unknown to me, it was the eve of my first and life changing pregnancy. This was thanksgiving time. I was in my last year at Ohio State. To any student, Thanksgiving was the most important holiday. Not only was it the night of the year when everyone went out in their hometown to judge who had changed, who went away, who was dumb enough to stay home...it was a time when we figured we had the world by the short and curlies. That night, while serving the remaining OSU population beer and fries, I knew it was a matter of hours before I was headed home to see old friends and most importantly, enjoy the best home cooked feast of the year.  I left around midnight..ready to face my empty home since my two roommates had already left for their dose of holiday fun. I came home figuring to pack a quick bag..have a beer or two in the amazing solitude of the apartment to myself. What I came home too still rocks my bones to this day. The back door was open..I hesitated to take another step further. Peeking around the corner, I noticed an overturned trash can. My kitten, who I had inherited for my birthday a few weeks prior, was hesitantly hiding behind the kitchen stove. I ventured a bit into the back entrance, my heart pounding and my eyes in disbelief that my home away from home had been so violated. When I felt brave enough to move through the house, my legs shook and my hands could barely touch the items that had been ransacked and left for nothing. Our house had been robbed. Our belonging strewed about like trash in an alley. My roommates rooms were void of such items as stereos and computers. Even more eerie, a picture of one of my roommates and a friend as well as my spare car keys were never found. I stood in my room looking down. It was a mess..blankets laying about and clothes in disarray. I realized that was its normal state of being and nothing of mine was missing. Shaking, I grabbed my kitten and ran toward the nearest payphone. (this was the time of my life post pager and pre cell phone). I called my would be husband and didn't step foot into that house for at least another week.

There is a feeling beyond scared you get when you realize your stuff has been tampered with by a total stranger. It is more than a mourning for what is no longer there, but a feeling like nothing you have or feel is sacred any more. So when I heard that there has been random break ins (20 to be exact) around our neighborhood, I couldn't help but feeling that anxiety I felt ten years ago when I walked into that empty, ransacked house.

I like to say that was my last encounter with the selfish act of violating a total stranger's privacy and livelihood. Fast forward a couple months to early 2002.  What can I say, I am a sucker for a hero, and a month after our break in, I was pregnant with his child. (Layla) On a cold Monday night, I was dozing into my usual early pregnancy slumber. My roommate had been out for the evening ( It was the college years, drunken Mondays were a standard).  I heard the usual murmur of voices late in the evening that accompanied a night out. I heard laughter and music..which eventually quieted. I woke later to the sound of my door opening. I thought it was a random drunk...who clearly realized this was the wrong way to the bathroom.
"What?" I said...arising from my slumber...barely able to open my eyes. I saw his face. He was pale with dark hair wearing those circular John Lennon glasses. He wasn't much older than me but looked more scruffy. His dark navy hoodie was pulled up over his head.
"Oh...sorry" he said and closed the door.  It wasn't until moments later, when I heard my roommate scream and the pounding of quick footsteps down the stairs, that I realized he was an intruder. There was screaming, confusion, quick dialing of 911, then the thought that had finally set in. We had once again been robbed. This time the only casualty was me. He took $200 cash from my purse, the labor of a long weekend bar shift.

hoodie finally faded to distant memory. But last night, when I fell asleep in state of panic, I felt every cricket chirp, every slight summer breeze, every tire squeak. I though about how my stakes were so much higher. I have two precious bodies sleeping in the next room that I didn't want to ever have to feel this anxiety. So to you, stealer of neighborhood souls, what is so important that you need to take people's bank cards and ipods right from their cars? Were you not hugged enough as a child, did you never feel the security that everything was going to be fine with the right amount of faith and humor. Thank you for once again steeling my face right off my head.

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