It took me 19 minutes to get from Union Square to Astoria last Friday night. That's a world record, surely. The avenues were empty, and the bridge was so clear and gorgeous--which is often is, but I noted it, just the same. When I arrived home, in my mailbox was the first check from my literary agent, for my novel, Yield, which is coming out next fall. This was turning out to be the best day of my life. Except that, at sometime between noon and 6:45pm, a burglar had broken through my back bedroom window, swiped my laptop and my jar of change, and then bolted away. When I saw the window the first thing I thought was -- why is my window open? And why is the computer missing? Then it all sort of assembled together in my brain, and I felt numb.
Bean was still cowering in the closet, making the small, scared noises that she does when someone she doesn't know is in the apartment. (This said to me that the person could have been in the apartment even five or ten minutes before I got home, but she is also the kind of cat who would stay hidden in the dark for five hours.)
The cops came. We filled out the paperwork. They were very nice. One bitched about their superiors who, he said, were "fifteen years younger than us." "And man," the other one added, "they really bust our balls." I felt bad for them; in that moment they seemed pitiful. One of them was huge, and he looked too big for my little chair and desk. They told me they'd wait outside for the sergeant to arrive, and they probably wouldn't be calling me again. I didn't expect that they would.
When people are burgled, they talk about feeling invaded, violated--as if something from outside of them has moved into their being. But I feel the opposite -- as if a part of me has been taken out of my body and is now wandering the world. Pictures of me, essays I've been working on for months or years, my manuscripts, thousands of emails that I have saved for their important information, or for their sentimental value. The lesson here is, of course, protect and backup. Thankfully, Apple's Time Machine feature saved everything I had except for about two pages of new fiction -- and the second draft is always better.
I spent the entire day on Saturday trying to counteract the negative energy of the theft--somehow feeling the burglar's desperation, that desire, that sad karmic choice--as if it had come from within me, how strange is that? I bought some arty junk from one of the artists on the south end of Union Square. I was ridiculously helpful at the syrup stand--even to the customers that I want to stab in the eye. There was a guy playing electric guitar under the subway at Broadway in Astoria, and I put ten bucks in his hat. I needed to make choices, and I wanted to choose generosity. Do you understand how this kind of giving was about steeling myself against the alternative?