We live under a false illusion that we are safe. We put cameras on our doorbells. Locks on our doors. Bars on our windows. But as my wise old man says, “All locks do is keep honest folks honest.”
It turns out that thieves sometimes manage to find a way in despite our best efforts to be safe.
We were recently returning from a few weeks in the Redwoods when we received a phone call from our security company that our alarm had been triggered. Despite opposing reports from police and neighbors, we returned home in the middle of the night to discover that we had, in fact, been broken into.
The garage and the office were a mess. Torn apart. Items of value were gone. Things were broken, carelessly tossed about in the rush to search every inch of our space. It looked as if a whirlwind had come in through the window and left through the door leaving destruction in its wake.
We marveled at how much could be taken in such a brief period before the alarm was triggered. We laughed at how disappointing it must have been to break into our house (we have a lot of books and Legos…not a lot of electronics or valuables…things of value to us maybe, but not to the market of thieves). We puzzled over how they’d gotten in and how they’d chosen us. We were surprised that someone could come into our house in the middle of the afternoon and manage to walk out with guns, a dirtbike, and so much more.
We felt angry, sad, confused, scared.
Because it was our space. And now it wasn’t quite feeling like our space anymore.
Somehow our precious space had become a community hot-spot for a group of worthless thieves for but a moment. It doesn’t matter how brief that moment was, though, because that intrusion has forever changed the way I see our home.
My illusion of feeling safe has been shattered.
Normally I spend the first few days after traveling processing our trip, unpacking and slowly folding ourselves back into the daily grind. But this <inconvenience> robbed me of that transition.
Instead, the days following the break-in were annoyingly spent fixing what the thieves had broken, stolen and destroyed. We invested hundreds of dollars in cameras and doorbells and extra security. We closed bank accounts, rekeyed every access point, put fraud alerts on our credit reports, filled out police reports, fixed broken shelves. We talked to neighbors with the hope that someone had seen something. We spent far more time making reparations than what they took in destroying our home.
The reality is that at the end of the day what really matters are the ones we love. The people in our lives. It’s not the stuff we’ve accumulated. It’s not the things we collect along this journey.
I know that. I get that. But still I feel violated. As if my once safe haven is no longer safe or a haven. And that’s a terrible feeling to have.
I suppose I should be thankful that we weren’t home when it happened. That would have made a scary situation much scarier. I should be thankful that the alarm worked as intended and scared the intruders away. I should be glad that in the end they only got away with a small fraction of valuable things. I should be grateful that each of my people are safe and accounted for and, that in the grand scheme of things, everything is going to be okay.
Except that I don’t feel thankful, glad, or grateful. I feel violated. I feel mistrusting. I feel hurt and angry. I imagine someday my home will once again feel like a comforting place to walk into, not a prison to lock myself into. I know that one day I won’t be suspicious of every car that drives down my street. I trust that one day I will feel safe and my dreams won’t reflect the fears in my heart.
But in the meantime, I walk into a store and I look into each person’s eyes that I pass and I wonder how broken they are and I wonder how desperate they’ve ever been and I wonder if they’ve ever crossed that imaginary line that exists that keeps the world relatively good. And, of course, I can’t help but wonder if they were in my home just days ago.
I know this feeling will pass. I know that. And I know that the world is mostly good. That people are mostly good. And I know that one day I’ll look back at this without a seething anger. But for now I’m basking in my anger. I’ve let go of the notion of ever finding these petty criminals and I’ve accepted the idea that bad exists even in this beautiful city of mine. I’m trying my best not to sound bitter, but it’s hard. My view of the world through rose-colored glasses has been shattered and I’m over here trying to put those glasses back together, the best I can. In the meantime, please take note that my doors and windows are locked and clamped, the videos are rolling and the lights are motion triggered.
**I began this post back in September immediately after the event occurred. It’s taken me a few months to re-write it so facetious anger isn’t dripping out of every sentence. Being a bit more removed from the event, I can say that life has gone on, as it should, but I am still haunted by the idea that safety is such a fragile feeling that can be shattered so easily. Please be smart and cautious. Be conscious that while we hope for a safe and sheltered life, the reality is that evil exists. Tend to the ones you love, protect the things you’ve worked for, trust in the goodness that exists, but remember to lock your doors, turn on your alarms and be a nosy neighbor. Samantha’s neighbor in Bewitched, Mrs. Kravitz, probably prevented many break-ins.**