It’s a Friday night like any other. The Rockstar was gigging on the east coast and my sons and I were just coming in from baseball practice. As we walk in the side door, Lucius pushes past me as I juggle the various items that I’m toting home at the end of the week, he stops in his tracks and yells “Hello?!?! Is somebody here?” Semi-annoyed I say “What do you mean, baby?” as I swivel around him to lighten my load. He stands at the doorway of the kitchen and cocks his head looking through the living room down the long hall to the far side of the house. He says “I heard something. Is daddy home?” and I say “No, daddy is in New York” and chalk the noise up to the recent revelation that we have rats in the attic. I make a mental note to get traps and start making dinner. Then I hear a distant clacking sound. I pause at the familiarity of the sound… again, I dismiss it as the rats. I put the quickie dinner of Trader Joe’s mac n’ cheese on the table, yes, even I resort to frozen dinners when needed. I kick off my shoes and walk down to my bedroom where I plan to grab my laptop, so I can pour a glass of wine and do some writing. Ring-a-ding-ding! That’s a rockin’ Friday night! As I turn the corner to my bedroom, the first thing I notice is my sliding glass door, it’s open and my curtain is sort of blowing out of it. I can see the metallic gold in the weave of the fabric as the last light of the day hits it… what an odd thing to notice in that moment. Then I look to my right and see that the drawers to my free standing jewelry boxes are out and so are some of my dresser drawers. My bedding is wildly disturbed (Which would be hard to notice considering I rarely make my bed. I know. I totally should but, whatev) and a naked pillow is at my feet. All of these thoughts come to me in the span of seconds and I realize that somebody was indeed here. I look down at my safe, am relieved that it is untouched. I turn and run back to the side of the house where my children are and say with fervor, “Boys! Follow me NOW!”. Thankfully they recognized the urgency in my voice and did as they were told, without hesitation. We run together out of the house and I stand at the edge of the street, shaking… I dial 9-1-1.
The Arcadia Police showed up within minutes and with guns drawn, enter my home… My safe place. The place I tuck my kids in for restful sleep. The structure that houses me and mine, even when the husband is away. “Why did this have to happen when he was on the other side of the country?” I think as the officer’s flash lights make firefly movements inside my home. After what seemed an eternity, they come out and tell me that all is clear. An officer begins to take my statement. I tell him what happened, where I was all day, where my husband is, what time we left and got home. I had taken my boys to the neighbor after the police had been called. They were safe. I walked nervously back into my home with the officer. He tells me where they think the “villain” as my youngest son refers to them, entered and where they exited (oh! The clacking sound I heard! The tricky latch on the door in my bedroom that leads to the patio). He tells me that I’m lucky no windows were broken and there was no damage. He says that I’m lucky we came home when we did because they could have gotten even more. I don’t feel lucky, though. I feel scared. I announce loudly (to whom I was speaking is not clear)”We aren’t staying in this fucking place tonight”. The officer says “Ok” awkwardly… I think he knew I wasn’t speaking to him. I turn to him and say “Stay here. I’m going to get my boys so we can pack a bag and get the fuck outta here.” He complies. In retrospect, I realize that I basically commanded him to stay and that I could have been softer and asked instead of demanding but, I guess I was in survival mode and that’s just the way it was. I get the boys from the neighbor and my oldest is visibly shaken. He’s jumpy and nearly vibrating with fear. I tell him that we are going to our friend’s house and he’s slightly relieved. I tell him to pack a bag but he can’t let go of my hand. We pack our bags together, nearly touching the whole time. My youngest is not as phased. He still lives in a world where he is safe no matter what. Lucky kid. The officer was gracious and is telling the boys that those people don’t want to hurt anyone, that they want things and they purposefully come when people aren’t home. Lucius says, “did they take my toys?” and “Why would they take our iPad?” the officer clearly doesn’t have kids and is trying to navigate the questions of an almost five year old. My ten year old clings to me… I send the boys out to the car and grab a bottle of bourbon on my way out (Priorities, people!). I catch the gaze of the officer as I shove it deep into my bag. I say “They don’t have this where I’m going.” Knowing that I’m gonna
want need to take the considerable edge off. He raises his hands and makes an inaudible sound that I took to mean “Hey, I get it. I’m not judging you.” He assures me that we have buttoned the house up tight and tells me that he’s on all night and will drive by to check the house throughout his shift. We slept at our friend’s house. By “slept” I mean that we all kind of tossed and turned but made it through the night.
We are ok. The villain got my laptop, iPad and some cheap jewelry that held nothing more than sentimental value. The laptop had my new book on it and some pictures that hadn’t been backed up. I backed up some of it so, not all is lost but there is loss. Weeks of work, actually. They stole more than a computer, they stole my time. Mother fuckers. More than anything, they stole my peace of mind. My sense of comfort. Now I’m a person who is shopping for security cameras and jumping at the slightest noise. They stole the sense of security that my son has always had, a little piece of his innocence flew out the back door with the villain. Swearing Mom out.