I balance my phone between my left shoulder and ear, taking the key out of the ignition, and grabbing my things from the passenger seat with one hand as I open the door with my other hand.
"Right? This is that bullshit. Damn near everyone I know is there. I can't believe I'm missing it."
I struggle to balance the slushie I grabbed on the way home in my hand along with my keys and a book, taking care to not let my over sized bag slide off my shoulder, or move my ear from the phone. I balance on one precarious heel while kicking the door closed with the other. I manage to open the door with my forearm, while reaching for the light switch with my shoulder.
"Oh my God you got tickets?! HOW?!"
My nerves start firing messages before my brain can comprehend them.
"You better wear gloves."
The door directly across from me going into the backyard is standing open.
"I know right."
And the frame is completely shattered. I trip over the remainder of the lock in the middle of the kitchen floor.
"Babe I have to call you back. I think someone broke into my house."
For some unrealistic reason, despite my haste to leave the house, I am unnaturally concerned with maintaining the balance of everything in my hands. In the movies, when this has happened, the person drops all the items in their arms, the camera panning their fall to the floor in slow motion, maybe in silence.
In real life, and if you are me, you are so wildly concerned with somehow hanging on to a snatch of control in this alternate universe that used to be your home, that making it back to the driver's seat without dropping anything feels like a significant victory. I'm so frazzled I almost drive through the closed garage door.
I drive, fuzzy around the edges, all while frantically calling my stepdad. In my mind I run a mental list, try to prepare myself for what I may find.
What if Honey is hurt? The TV, the DVD player, probably the cable boxes. SHIT! I left my camera on the dresser! And my diamond earrings! Goddammit!!!
I park in the lot at the school up the street from my block. Every shadow, every sound, makes me jump. After about 30 minutes I can't stand it anymore. I have to get back to Honey and make sure she's ok.
The garage is open when I return, my stepdad's truck parked on his side. I park and jump out without even bothering to grab my bags.
Inside, the door is still open, a barely less than frigid draft whipping through the kitchen. I take deep breaths to try to calm myself. I hear my stepdad walking around upstairs as I rush to the bathroom where I left Honey when I left for work this morning. She is fine, a bit shaken and leery, more clingy than usual. But all in one piece. I make my way upstairs.
In the loft, the TV has been knocked over. Wires are draped over the entertainment center where the thieves took the cable box and DVR, as I suspected they would. Other than that, the room seems mostly untouched.
The guest room door is open, but not much appears to be touched there. My bathroom is exactly as I left it, as is both the hall closets, and my dad's room. All appears to not be too awful.
Until I get to my room.
It looks like someone picked up the entire room and dropped it upside down. The TV and it's stand are toppled over, DVD player and cable box, gone. Clothes and purses are pulled from my closet, strewn about the floor. An entire drawer opened and dumped on the carpet. All the things on my dresser out of place. Nothing as I left it just a few short hours ago when I left for work.
While we wait for the cops, I take stock of what's missing. All in all, about $3,000 worth of my stuff has taken flight. I sit down on my bed, exhausted. Before I know it, I am crying. Not because of the things that I have lost, though I worked quite hard to get them. Instead, I am overwhelmed by feeling that my space dirty. All I keep thinking in my head is, someone has been here.
It barely feels like home.
I try, as much as I can keep it together. I call Bob, trying to pretend like I am not that upset, that this hasn't shaken me as much as it has. Before long, I am merely holding the phone and struggling to control the panic attack coiling inside me. I have no words for this feeling, this kinda empty. I'm not sure how long I sat there before I muttered the only thing I felt;
"I don't know what I did."
I fix myself a drink and gain control just long enough to manage to compile a list of items that I have noticed missing and their value for the officer that has shown up to survey the damage. As I am writing and looking around the room, I realized I've not looked in my jewelry box, having been mildly placated by the fact that my diamond earrings that I got as a graduation gift from my parents aren't gone. With a shaky hand I lift the lid.
It's damn near empty.
My favorite silver hoops that it took me a year to find. My 2 favorite bracelets, handmade by Mo. Quite a few necklaces, earrings, a watch, 3 pairs of shades.
No no no no no.
My grandmother's pearls are missing.
I simply cannot.
I feel like someone is sitting on my chest. I bite the inside of my lip until it ruptures, sharp, metallic blood seeping into my mouth. The sensation has somehow stopped the sting of tears behind my eyes.
I can't replace that.
After all the business is settled, I decide to stay in town at my mom's. I can't bear the thought of being in that house, especially since the door can't yet be fixed and all that is standing between me and the next person that decides they wanna kick the shit in, is a small piece of plywood.
That night, I am restless. When I finally do fall asleep, I am scared awake by every sound I hear. I am having long, dark nightmares that I can't wake up from. I am sweating profusely, tossing and turning, waking up absolutely on fire.
I wake up at 7am, done with trying to force myself to sleep.
I spend the following day and the next trying to keep busy, part time working, going to dinner, running errands. Eventually though I find that I can't bear to go another step to do another thing and I make my way back to my mom's, still too shaken to go back home. I spend hours in front of the TV and pacing the floor, willing my body to shut down so I can go to sleep. It isn't trying to hear it. I decide to make a trip to the store to grab some bottles of water and ice cream. If I am gonna be up all night, it at least better be enjoyable.
I find myself at the 24 hour Walgreen's on the corner, wandering the aisles aimlessly, looking at nail polish and light bulbs, Hallmark cards and tampons. I am not particularly in a rush, and there is something mildly comforting about the fact that despite it being 1am, the store is still bright and awake. By the time I finally make it over the ice cream, the muzak playing from the overhead speakers actually starts playing something I know.
You gotta fast car, I wanna ticket to anywhere
I stop short. It's as if all of a sudden the song is on surround sound, like there is a concert in my head.
You gotta fast car, but is it fast enough so we can fly outta here?
Before I even recognize it, I am sliding down the wall in front of me, hot tears escaping from my eyes. It feels like my legs have disappeared from under me, and I crash to the ground far harder than I would prefer. I hardly feel the pain. I am too busy curling up on my side, tucking myself as tight as I can in the fetal position. I feel a puddle of my tears pooling on the floor under my face, but I am far too weak to care. In my head, I hear my grandmother singing this very song.And suddenly I felt the weight of the past 5 years or so firmly assert itself on my shoulders.
In my mind, I am repeating the same thing I could only say sitting in my bedroom and taking in the mess that had been made of my sanctuary'
I don't know what I did.
It's silly of course. Logically speaking, I could say that I had the most stuff stolen, that my room was the most ransacked because I had the most to steal. Logically I could say that I came to Texas with good intentions and a plan and got waylaid. Logically I could rationalize that it could always be worse.
But this is how I feel. It's not always logical.
At some point, I must have done something. Although for the life of me, I sincerely can't recall my transgression, at some point I must have acted in such a way to turn my Karma on it's head. These last few years have been far too painful, too difficult, to0 insanely heavy and impossible to merely be the standard trials of life. The things I have pushed through, the things I have gotten up from, would without a shadow of a doubt take most people out, especially when they have fallen in such close proximity to each other as my tribulations have. But I've kept trying haven't I? I never gave up, did I? I still did good and tried to be positive for the most part, right? I kept praying and pushing and trying and laughing and living, didn't I?
So maybe something is telling me not to get back up.
I take stock of my life, as it is today, the things that have rendered me unrecognizable. My self imposed extradition from a city I love all because I fell in love there. Separation from my friends who are like family. A lover more distant and furtive than I prefer. Family ties severed beyond repair. A job I hate. A thoroughly slaughtered psyche, complimented by a ruined emotional landscape.
I cannot live this way.
After longer than I can measure, I finally pick myself up off the floor, scurrying out of the door with my head down, ashamed. I hear the girls that work there whispering and giggling about me before I even hit the doors.
I jump in my car and start to drive. Maybe if I go far enough, I will get somewhere.