At approximately 2:05 am this morning I was pulled from sleep by a sound that was not part of my dream. It was the sound of someone pulling my husband's Schwin Stingray over the top of the chain link fence on the west side of our property. As I struggled to understand what was happening, I sat up, turned around, and flipped open the shades just in time to see someone riding away on my husband's bike. Momentarily stunned and bewildered I glanced to the left to assure myself that Ian was indeed in bed with me and that it wasn't him out there taking off on some very odd, very early morning cruise. The lump under the covers confirmed that he was there and as I glanced back out the window I still found myself unable to utter a single word. It was like being in one my own recurring nightmares in which some kind of danger is happening and I try to move and/or speak but find myself mute and paralyzed. After a few seconds I was able to say Ian's name and gently touch him and he rushed out to the back yard to confirm that we had, indeed, again been the victims of a crime of opportunity.
Now, a little background to this story is that in the almost 6 years that we have lived on this property, just east of the college, the following things have happened to us:
May 25, 2008-A serial arsonist burned down our garage. The structure was a loss, as were 4 trees, our lawn, all of the vinyl siding on the back of our house, our retractable awning, and our hot tub.
May 27, 2008-The same serial arsonist set another fire on the east side of our property. Luckily, a few guys living on the second floor of the place next door happened to be out on their balcony smoking at 2 in the morning and not only saw him, but were able to detain him, which led to his arrest. He's in jail now.
October 2008-Someone in our neighborhood shot my beloved cat, Mowgli, with a pellet gun. The pellet lodged near his spine and while it was successfully removed by our amazing veterinarian, Mowgli never regained the use of his back legs nor was he able to use the bathroom on his own. After a long and heart wrenching 9 months we made the decision to have him put to sleep. My heart was broken.
November 2008-Someone came in through our back gate and stole 2 very expensive bikes and a bike trailer from our back yard. Our insurance agent encouraged us to file a claim, which we did. We got 2 great new bikes and then a letter from our insurance company, Allstate, saying that they were canceling our home owner's insurance.
Last Tuesday, September 11, 2012-Ian walked out of his studio just in time to see the man who owns, but does not live on the property to the east of us, throw a huge handful of rocks at our sweet puppy.
This past Sunday, September 16, 2012-I discovered that sometime on Friday or Saturday someone had stolen the welcome mat from our front stoop.
Early this morning, Tuesday, September 18, 2012-Some very bold person walked right up to our fence, activating the motion sensor light while he or she was at it, hauled my husband's bike over, and then rode very casually away.
So, we are good people who try to put out into this world what we would like to receive back and we know that we have been victims of two random acts of violence, a handful of crimes of opportunity, and a total douche bag moment by the land lord next door but that knowledge has not prevented me from feeling horrible. All of these events have robbed me of something that I didn't even appreciate until it was ripped from me: peace of mind. For months after the fire, I was unable to sleep and to this day if I smell any smoke I have an immediate adrenaline rush and a feeling of panic. One afternoon, just weeks after the fire, I found myself frantically running around the neighborhood looking for the source of a pungent smoke smell. It turned out to be the neighbors a few doors down having a bonfire. When I calmed down and came to my senses I realized that I had on only a half open robe as I had blindly jumped from the shower when I detected the smoke. So much for enjoying campfires! I lived by myself in many different places over many different years and did things that I now cringe to think about, like walking home from friends' apartments late at night on dark stretches of road, and I was never afraid because I thought that nothing bad could ever happen to me. Now I cannot fall asleep in this house unless my husband is in the bed next to me. I was fearless and now I am fearful. What every single one of my fears centers around is this: someone will somehow be able to gain entrance to our home without our knowledge and either harm or abduct one or all of our children. I have now had the same nightmare on and off for the past 4 years. In it a person or persons is breaking into our house through one of the windows in our bedroom and I see them doing it and I am paralyzed and rendered mute. Immediately after I was able to fall back to sleep early this morning I again had this nightmare. This time I was able to cry out my husband's name, which is what usually happens, and he, who found himself sleepless beside me, was able to reassure me right away that it was just the nightmare again.
So, I am angry. Pretty fucking pissed, actually, that these things keep happening to us and I've been thinking all day about what I wish I had been able to shout out through the open window to the back of the retreating bike thief. Things like: fuck you, mother fucker, or, you god damned mother fucking son of a bitch. I, who have never wanted a gun, even a toy gun, in my home, also found myself telling my husband that I wished that I had had an automatic weapon handy at 2:05 am this morning. Charming, I know, and not quite ladylike, and not quite me, but I find myself with this anger welling up inside of me that represents the culmination of everything that has occurred over the past 4 years. Angry. Yes. But also thankful. Thankful because that fire did not destroy our home or harm anyone in our family. Thankful because I had 5 wonderful years with the world's most amazing, human-like, lovable cat who will ever walk this earth. Thankful that I and my family have never been physically harmed. And, finally, thankful that we have managed, through everything, to hold on to our idea that the world is a good place and that everything is going to be ok.
So, we are moving forward, once again, and I am writing about everything here to help myself feel better and we are going to concentrate on living the lives that we have dreamed and on making enough money so that we can move to a new property and have a fresh start. Time will help me feel better and I will have a good cry and maybe practice saying more nasty words but I will not allow this to rob me of my own kindness or my faith in the goodness of humanity.
But, so help me, if I see someone riding around this town on a Schwinn Stingray with a ripped seat, I will pop a cap in his or her ass. Even if it's only in my dreams.