A week ago, at 5:30 in the morning, I was awakened by sounds from the kitchen. Surely the fridge, I thought, making ice. No, I realized, the sounds were something else, but somehow I did not get alarmed in the panicky sense.
I looked out the open door of the bedroom and there, down the hall, in our living room, was a burglar with a flashlight, opening drawers. The sight will be burned forever in my memory: a kid of 19, I later learned, who lives not far away, looking for drug money who was able to climb in through a kitchen window.
How I got to the phone I don't remember since the scene was like something from a movie, but, having called 911, the police were soon there, with dogs and helicopter and four cars with flashing lights. By then, my wife was awake and incredulous. They caught the guy within minutes nearby and retrieved what he had stolen from us (our car keys, jewelry, purse).
Having lived in this house, in this quiet neighborhood, for many years, having never been the victim of a crime, I was stunned that this invasion of my sanctuary could occur. I now find it hard to relax at night and often have trouble sleeping, even though more locks have been added, even though I know this is not likely to happen again.
But logic has little effect on primal fear. I now know what women feel around predatory men, or maybe even after a sexual assault: the feeling of being violated. My house, after all, is an extension of me. The fact that our valuables were returned and no one was hurt does not alter the emotional impact of what occurred.
The fact that I handled the situation calmly cannot erase the memory of what happened. The space I had long counted on as safely ours has been altered. The world is not safe, not even where I live.
The reactions of friends has been interesting; most men hearing my story have tended to talk about what electronic protection I need; most women are horrified since they tune in at once to the trauma of being invaded. One suggested I write a story about it, but, for now, writing this post and talking about it is enough.