5:30 yesterday morning my alarm goes off. Reluctant to relinquish the warmth I’ve cultivated in my bed all night, I hit the snooze button. As I’m luxuriating in the last moments before I’m ejected into the freezing waters of the day, I hear “something”. Probably one of the dogs in the kitchen, I think. A few moments later, I hear another noise, right as I realize that both dogs are in their beds in their respective corners of the room. Before I even get a chance to process this realization, I hear something else and one of the dogs starts up with a peculiar bark.
I desperately try to yank the bf from the depths of his dreams into what seems to be turning into a nightmare. I fly out of bed and as I pass the study, I see the lamp which is below the window on the stoop, teetering drunkenly as I hear someone moving stealthily outside. I race to the kitchen window and my heart crashes to the screeted floor and seems to impale my feet there in the process. There is a man in a blue windbreaker standing with his back towards me, keeping watch across my swimming pool.
As I stand there, a momentary imitation of Lot’s wife, he turns his head and we look straight at each other. The spell breaks and I bolt to the keypad to sound the alarm. Except I don’t remember how. Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph! I beseech deities I do not believe in before I recall the location of the portable panic button. I press the red button and the shrill siren shrieks through the predawn dark, freaking out the dogs, especially the SPCA special who is leery of loud noises and cowers from thunder and alarms. Alarms like this one tearing the fragile silence. The security company calls and says someone is on their way. By now the bf is racing around in his t-shirt, pants-less, wielding a huge sword he picked up from a thrift shop on a whim.
He yells out the door and we turn off all the lights so we aren’t targets for whoever is out there in the dark. We let the dogs out to investigate, but it seems the intruders have taken off. 9 minutes later I call CHUBB again, to see where the armed response is. It is between 15 and 20 minutes from the time i sent the first SOS, before they finally show up. 15 to 20 minutes that might as well have been eternity – anything could have happened in that eon of apprehension and insecurity. The armed guard walks the property and ascertains that there’s no longer anyone who shouldn’t be there. In the meantime time is doing its peculiar trick of racing by while it stands still, contracting and expanding in an inimitable tango. I have to be at work by 7, so I have to jump in the shower and get a move on. It’s only when I walk into the make-up room at the studio, that the adrenalin deserts me and I shakily reach for the rescue remedy.
Later when I get back home, I realize they’ve stolen my Saucony and Feivue sneakers through the open window of the storage room, but it seems that that’s all that’s missing. The afternoon is taken up by men installing additional security beams and movement sensitive lights – something which I didn’t exactly budget on after the splurge that was AfrikaBurn last month. This weekend we’ll put up additional electric fencing.
Despite the added security measures, I still find myself lying awake for a large part of the night, listening for phantom sounds. The illusion of safety and security has once again been shattered. At least this time I responded to the noise before whoever it was had the opportunity to surprise me in my bed. It’s taken so long to rebuild even a semblance of that feeling of immunity we all need to navigate our days and nights. The feeling that “it won’t happen to me”. Now I have to start all over. I realize that this time I’m not so much afraid. I’m angry. I’m unbelievably pissed off that I have to live with all these security measures, alarms, locks, electric fencing. I long for those 12 yrs in Topanga when I left my keys in the car and my house was never locked.
And yet I’m also grateful. We’ve gotten incredibly comfortable and lax the last while, leaving the security gates unlocked, taken showers with the back door wide open. This is the best possible outcome – no-one was hurt. I wasn’t wearing those sneakers anyway, and this has been the wake-up call to reinforce our security.
Truth is though, I would so much rather have stayed asleep and lulled in the reverie of a life lived without fear and electric fences, a life where a man in a blue windbreaker doesn’t jolt me back to another night that did not end quite as well as this one. And I’d rather live a life where that dream IS the reality.