My house was broken into tonight.
Nobody was home; none of us were hurt.
This has been perhaps the scariest experience of my life, excluding a few nightmares that faded quickly. I'm going to try to get it down in sequence, both so I don't forget the details (ah, the writerly impulse in action), and perhaps to exorcise it.
I arrive home from the airport around 10ish. I had taken a cab back; Ian had been supposed to drive me, but he'd forgotten, and by the time I had reached him, it seemed simpler to cab back. He's working late at the office in Castro Valley. El's working late on a strike, and Cliff is away in Austin, so nobody else is home.
When I walk in, I don't notice anything amiss. Just walk into my bedroom, where I notice that my stereo is missing. I don't worry about it; I just assume someone has borrowed it. That sort of thing happens around here, and it's fine. Then I notice that my room is messier than I'd left it -- bed moved, closet open, light on. My laptop is missing. I start to get nervous, but I am still telling myself not to be silly, that someone has just borrowed some things. Maybe Lydia and the girls had stayed over, and the kids had messed up the room some, and Lydia had needed to borrow some things, and there's a note for me in the kitchen. But I'm nervous.
Then I walk into the living room, and notice that the tv is missing. This is when I start to freak. Just barely possible that there's another explanation for all this still. But through the dining room windows I can see light from the kitchen streaming out. Which means the back door is open. Maybe Ellie came home? Check the front window. No car in front.
I'm pretty sure we've been robbed now. I have no idea if there's anyone else in the house. I walk back into my room. I get my dagger off the wall. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it if someone appears in front of me, but I am really scared at this point, and don't know if I have the nerve to explore the house without *something* in my hands. I check my walk-in closet. No one. It's a total mess; someone has clearly been through it.
I walk into the hall, close the open door to El and Ian's room in the basement and lock it. I feel better. That basement was too nerve-wracking. I turn on the hallway light and walk down to the kitchen. The kitchen door is wide open. I shut it (thereby perhaps destroying prints, but this did not even occur to me) and lock it. The laundry room window is wide open. I shut that too.
At this point, I should probably go check the guest room and the bathrooms and the living room, but I've made a fair bit of noise -- hollering out El's name and such -- and I'm pretty sure nobody else is home. I go to my room to call Ian. My cordless phone is missing. I get his number and go back to the kitchen and call from his phone. He says he'll come right home, and to call the police. I call the police. They say they'll send someone over. I then call Jed and tell him he has to stay on the phone with me 'til Ian or the police arrive.
About twenty minutes later Ian arrives. When I hear the door opening, I holler from the kitchen, "Ian?", still on the phone with Jed, just in case. On the second call, he answers, and I finally start to relax. I'm not sure I'd realized how scared I'd been until he came home. I'm glad Ian's a big guy. He's six foot something, and in reasonably good shape. It's very comforting.
The worst of it was over then.
We took inventory, and eventually the police arrived, and I made chamomile tea for me and peppermint for Ian, and I called Kevin and talked to him for a while, and then I checked e-mail, and now I'm journalling and there's a woman here taking prints off surfaces and I'm calmer. Don't know how I'll sleep tonight. We're locking everything, of course.
Jed and Kevin both say that burglars often return a few nights later, to get the things they didn't get the first time. I don't know if I want to sleep here the next few nights. Ian's determined to stay -- says he won't let people like this scare him out of his home. I admire that in some sense -- but in another, there's absolutely nothing here that's worth risking my safety over. I'll stay tonight, though -- I may just stay up all night and sleep in the daytime for a day or two.
In the final inventory, I didn't lose that much. An old laptop that probably has no resale value, a stereo that won't work unless you hit it right, a cordless phone that only works if you're a foot away from the base, and a boom box that was pretty new. I bought it at Clarion, but I've hardly used it since. Less than $500 total value, I think, though replacement value may be a bit higher. The worst of it is that Kevin gave me the laptop two Christmases ago. I almost took it with me on this trip. That's frustrating.
Ian and El lost more. Tv, vcr, stereo with speakers, a jewelry box that belonged to El's grandmother, some heirloom jewelry. They didn't take anything of Cliff's, as far as we can tell. Just as well, since a) he's not here, and b) he's the one who was always worrying about locking up.
It looks like they came in a back window that doesn't latch properly. They tried to jimmy the back door lock first, and looked under the mat for the key. We'll never know if they would have broken a window if necessary.
I'm not sure if writing all that helped.
In the end -- we're okay, we'll secure the house a bit more, nobody was hurt. But my heart's still thumping, and I don't think I'll forget what it was like walking down the corridor with that silly dagger in my hand. I was very tempted to just hide in my room with the door shut.
Okay, more tea. I'll talk to y'all later.
Tuesday, 7:40 p.m.
Okay, now it really is Tuesday. I've had a quiet day, which was just what I needed. I fell asleep around 3:30, Karina called, worried, at 5:30 a.m. I mumbled something undoubtedly unintelligible, and fell back into bed. David called at 9:30, and I couldn't get back to sleep, so I've been a bit tired all day.
I basically spent today cleaning (a little), shopping (some), and gardening (a lot!). Picked up my veggies today at the garden store: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant (ick, but El likes 'em and she hates my peppers so we compromise), zucchini, spinach and salad greens. Also got a few more herbs -- Vietnamese coriander because it was so pretty, and rue, because it was so cool.
David helped turn over several of the vegetable beds (actually, David mostly did it, while I weeded). Now there's space ready for the tomatoes, chilies, eggplant and squash. Karen's coming by tomorrow for lunch and gardening, and whatever we don't finish then, I may drag David over to help with on Thursday. I'd like to get the gardening done before Todd and Debby arrive Thursday night so they can be suitably impressed. (Todd, I know you read this. Just forget about it 'til Friday, okay? :-)
The most exciting thing was the thyme, though. I bought six different kinds: golden thyme, lavender thyme, mother-of-thyme, lime thyme, creeping thyme and woolly thyme. I also got a large terra cotta pot and a small sundial. Ian and I planted the thyme around the edge of the pot, put the sundial in the middle, and now we have a time garden! It's a present for Ellie, who was pretty upset last night. We also got her a copy of Edward Eager's _The Time Garden_, which is a wonderful children's book. The kids get to travel through time with the help of the Natterjack and a garden of various thymes. (I am slightly regretting not buying the elfin thyme they had at the store, but it was neither as pretty or as odoriferous as some of the others...)
I'm in a bit of an odd mood. I sort of feel like ought to have gotten some writing or other real work done...but I don't want to do it. Paying bills was the closest I got. I think I may go to sleep early, planning to get up early and try to write for a few hours before heading up to Berkeley to meet up with Karen and drag her to garden shops. :-)
' I'd really like to get on a regular sleep schedule, but with all the travelling and other people's schedules, it's hard. Or rather, it would be easy if I switched to always going to bed at 2 a.m., but I have no desire to do that. Guess I'll just have to keep coping for now.
Thanks again to those who wrote supportive notes about the break-in. Still a little freaked, but it's getting better.