House Progress Five: Emergency

My house was broken into.

The first adjustor told us, from day one, “Get everything valuable out of the house.”

“We don’t have anywhere to put it,” I said.

He just shook his head like, Figure it out.

I removed everything of value that I could. I took my silver ring and my grandmother’s pearls. We took the blue Canton and the electronics. I took my dying laptop with all my unpublished work on it.

There wasn’t much else.

To me, the house is the most valuable thing that I own. That’s where I put all my money, all my valuables: towards the mortgage.

I thought we’d gotten everything of value out, but apparently we didn’t. Because someone broke in and stole from us.

They grabbed an Xbox, a computer and emptied my jewelry box. Who knows what else.

We called the police. Two young officers showed up. It was so strange. One of the officers was in training and he couldn’t stop smiling, like this was funny. Forensics arrived and tried to pull fingerprints. We were fingerprinted too, to rule out our prints. I was shaking, from head to toe. And I didn’t stop for a whole day, even when I went back to the office and finished out the day.

The police think it was a bunch of kids who broke in and stole what they could find.

It makes me crazy, queasy and sick, to think of kids sneaking into my house, going through my things and stealing from us, when we’ve lost so much already.

But I also know, that’s just life. We didn’t protect ourselves as much as we could have, and that’s on us. We’re vulnerable and someone took advantage of that. It’s nothing new. Even if it stings.

I called ADT the day of the break-in and got a security system installed.

I didn’t know you could get a security system on a house with a holey roof and broken windows, but guess what? You can!

Now, we are armed to the tilt. There are cameras, the works.

I had the remaining furniture and all our belongings packed up and moved into storage. There is literally nothing left to steal.

I’m rattled, but I’ve been rattled this whole time.

I’ve been in a state of emergency since that afternoon in July when the storm hit. I’ve been on high alert, near panic, since then. And this is why.

No one that we’re working with feels this way: not the insurance or the contractor or the bank. There is no sense of urgency, no need to hustle. To them, this is just business as usual. I understand that. They’re just doing their jobs.

While I’m in a state of crisis.

I’m in danger. My house is in danger. My family is in danger.

We won’t be safe again until we can move back in to our home. And that’s why I can’t stop calling the contractor, calling the bank, calling the insurance, daily, telling everyone to Hurry the fuck up.

I don’t know if it’s helping. It’s probably not helping. But I have to do something.

A friend of mine had a beautiful Victorian in the Fan that everyone adored. She suffered a house fire and was displaced years ago. I remember hearing the dead panic in her voice when she told me about it. I didn’t understand it at the time. I thought: What’s the big deal? She’ll move out and move back in again.

Now I know, intimately, what the big deal is.

My friend never did move back in to her beautiful home after the house fire. She moved into her grandmother’s house and eventually got divorced.

I think she’s happier now, but you know: life.

Nothing is easy. And yet we go on.


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