Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Night



I came home from a pleasant day spent teaching a workshop and an evening with MJ. As I pulled up to my hillside Victorian in Vallejo I noticed a bike leaning on the bushes in front of my house. A casual thing, but a bit out of place. I walked up my unlit front stairs (I usually keep the porch light on, but my bay area "greener" self said no, save the energy, the planet etc) to the front door. I noticed my boyfriend's boots were knocked over...strange. I opened the front door and as always turned my head right to see if my computer was still in its spot, and yes, it was there, untouched, so surely everything was as it should be. I walked straight from my door, turning lights on along the way and setting my purse and camera on the couch as I passed through the living room. I headed to the kitchen at the back of the house, flipped on the light and looked at the kitchen floor I swept just that morning. There are strange things on the floor, long, narrow and jagged and the curtain is askew. A double tiered basket of fruit is teetering on the butcher block. These things are not as I left them...click, click, click... and then it registers, the window has been broken, and there is someone in the house...

I backed out of my house pausing at the door and going back to the living room for my purse which has my cell phone and car keys. I called 911 from my cell, only to be put on hold. I stood shaking in the middle of the street looking up at the place I call home wondering if someone else, someone who has no face, is inside. I knocked on a neighbor's door, no one was home. By the time I had explained the situation to the CHP operator, a car of teenage boys had pulled up to the house I was standing in front of and within seconds a cop who is just passing by is flagged down. Minutes later the back up arrives. I am still on the phone, now being transfered to the actual Vallejo police.

10 or so youngish uniformed men stand amid a grouping of haphazzardly parked black cruisers in front of my house, making plans, organizing themselves. I say many times in response to their questions, no, there is no dog, no, no weapons etc. They ascend my steps, several go inside, another around the side yard, another up the alley down the block. Then there is yelling and commotion, repeated orders to "Put your hands up." They catch the man inside my house. He was crouching in the yard, having just run out the back door. He was in my house when I came up the stairs, opened my door and stepped inside. He was in my house as I went through my normal actions, removing coat and purse, flipping on lights. He was in my house. He was in my house. He was is my house and so was I... at the same time.

They arrest him, and empty his pockets onto the hood of their cruiser. For his effort, he has managed to get a ribbon full on silver rings from my high school days, a couple of batteries and a cheap porcelain figurine of a rabbit. Later I found out that he has also taken a shower in my bathtub. He cut his hand upon entry, smeared and dripped blood about my house, which I have spent the night removing with bleach. In picking up my freshly folded laundry (some of which has blood on it), now scattered about my bedroom. I find a bag that had been holding papers that morning, now filled with my underwear. Another sack of my underwear sits next to the the paper "to go" bag. I move to the girls' room which has also been rifled and find a pair of women's underwear and PJ bottoms sitting there. It is not mine, it is not familiar. He was in my house. He was in my house. He was in my house, and so was I.



Thanks everyone for all the supportive thoughts and comments! The day after I am still left with a broken window and a feeling of vulnerability and violation. I've lost a bit of faith in humanity not only by the break in, but by my landlord's response which was a superficial "glad no one was hurt" followed with an accusatory tone of why didn't you have a timer on or the porch light on etc. They refused to pay for the broken window or the installation of an alarm. 
Having said that, I am so very grateful that I wasn't hurt, that I didn't have the girls with me, and that the guy was caught by the police. Maybe there is a stroke of good luck coming my way soon!

10 comments:

Schbvonne said...

Oh my freakin god! OH COURT,IM SO SORRY! Nothing is worse then that feeling of violation. I hope you and Aaron are ok. Im thinkin of you.
xo

Courtney Cerruti said...

So scary! I am very thankful that it happened this way, that I didn't run into him or find him taking his shower (as he told the cops later) in my house. The best is that our landlords won't pay to replace the window he broke, nor will the cover the any cost of installing an alarm system. AAAHHHH!!!! Thanks for the thoughts, they help.

elisabeth alexander (elisabeth engel) said...

Courtney, my heart goes out to you. Something similar happend to me a long time ago and the feeling of having been violated was intense and unbearable. Try and do some good "voodoo" to clear your house, like burning sage or any action that you feel soothing and meaningful to reclaim your space. That's what I had to do. I am glad that you are safe - that's a blessing. I am sending good thoughts...

Shannon said...

Courtney- I'm so sorry! I know you must be shaking and still freaked. Your angel was watching you last night for sure to let you walk in and out of the house without harm. Good to know the police cruise your area and now will be even more vigilant. Just put in a CFL in that porch light and leave it on! Sure the police have given you other advice.

Take care~ Shannon

Krissy said...

oh my!! That's terrible. I'm so sorry to hear that happened to you! Glad everyone was ok....

It's so strange because this is the exact same thing that happened to our next door neighbor last week. What is wrong with people?!?

Courtney Cerruti said...

Its really terrifying to think someone is in your house, taking a shower or making themselves at home. Its even scarier to know they're doing it while your home too! I hope your neighbors were as lucky as we were.
Thanks for the support!

Linnea said...

Oh Courtney! I am so very sorry. The sense of violation is so extreme. It's awful but unsurprising that your landlords are so unhelpful... please recruit some help in cleaning up and putting things back together again. A smudging and sweeping is in order, for sure. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help... I am sending positive energy your way.

Courtney Cerruti said...

Thank you! Every bit helps!!!!

maritessb said...

omg.. unbelievable. i don't understand what's going on in our world. i'm just glad you and your family is safe.

Sara | Stinkerpants! said...

OMG, Court!! I'm so sorry!!