Friday, September 24, 2010

Not even a mouse

We had only been in bed for about an hour last night when what seemed like an earth-shattering crash made both of us leap out of bed in a flurry of racing hearts and caught breath. We stood in the dark, unsure of what to do. "Hello!" I called, terrified, down the dark hallway into our second bedroom, which has seemed to serve as the locus of our paranoia lately.

The night before, you see, Tom was at school attending a poetry reading and I was home by myself. I discovered that night we have motion censors on both the north and south sides of our house, because they both kept getting turned on. One of them is right outside the window in the second bedroom/office, and the other is right outside our living room windows (which aren't on the front of the house, but the side). I was in our office, on the internet, and noticed the light come on through the blinds. The dogs in the neighborhood were going nuts that night, with constant barking (and there are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood). I didn't think much of it, and eventually it turned itself off. But I hadn't even been aware of its presence until that night, after almost 5 weeks of living here. Probably some random dog walking around, I thought.

A few minutes later I was walking into the kitchen when I noticed another light shining through the blinds of our living room window. I peeked through and saw that we had yet another motion censor on that side of the house, I had also previously never been aware of. This gave me a little bit of a pause, as the dogs were still going nuts all around our house.

Hmmm, I thought to myself, growing a little scared and paranoid. All the blinds in the house were shut, and the doors were locked. I thought about activating the alarm, but didn't. I went back into the office, my skin tingling a bit, and a chill went through me when I saw that the light outside the office had turned itself on again.

Shit. Now what? This boy has seen too many movies. Plus, at the moment we're sharing a car, and Tom had it, so I thought, "What if someone is walking around the house trying to figure out if someone's home?" And lest you think I'm simply paranoid, our neighbors across the street have had their home broken into 3 times in 4 years. Just a couple of weeks ago, the house next door to them had its front door kicked in in broad daylight. Within the past month, 3 other houses within 2 or 3 blocks of us have been broken into. Memphis takes its crime seriously. The dogs were now quieting down.

After several more minutes of hand-wringing, I decided to call the cops. Just, you know, to let someone know I was feeling paranoid, and maybe they could drive through the neighborhood or something. So they ended up sending 2 cars to my house, and they talked to me a bit (which, honestly, made me feel silly, because I hadn't actually seen or heard anything), and they walked all around the house and the backyard. (And I'm pretty sure one of them was Officer Aubrey, but I wasn't sure and it seemed inappropriate to ask. And yes, I sometimes watch that show.)

Obviously they found nothing. But later that night, after I had gone to bed, Tom was still up working and noticed the sensor outside the office turn on yet again. So he left the light on in the office when he came to bed.

So last night, we both crept into the darkness of the living room, huddling together. The kitchen light was on. "Did you leave the kitchen light on?" I asked Tom, as he had come to bed after me. I don't remember his response, but I think he said he did. I called for the cat, but I didn't see her anywhere. One of us reached down and turned on a lamp. Nothing seemed amiss. I walked into the kitchen half expecting there to be a person standing around the corner, having just kicked through our back door. Nothing. And no cat. Door still securely fastened.

So we both crept slowly together toward the back bedroom. I turned on the light. Everything seemed normal.

What the hell was that crash we'd both heard, and that caused us both jump out of our skin from sound sleep?? We were both so confused, and also freaked out.

Then I saw it. I breathed a sigh of relief, and almost started laughing at the absurdity of it. 2 weeks ago (or 3?), I bought a huge, old framed poster of a United States map to hang above the giant empty space of wall above our TV. Well, that had decided after all this time to fall, and simply land, upright, behind the TV and the TV table. We both finally breathed, and found the cat underneath the coffee table. The only other time in my life I'd been that freaked out was when I lived in Dallas and the light fixture in my bathroom fell one night and crashed to the floor while I was sleeping. I was convinced then that someone had broken my back sliding-glass door and was absolutely mortified to walk out into my living room to investigate.

So we both went back to sleep, eventually, after our hearts and nerves calmed down. But even now, in the morning, some of that paranoia still remains. I wonder if this is just how I'll feel the whole time I'm living here. Having your home broken into seems to me just about the most invasive crime that can happen to someone. How can you ever feel safe after that? Frankly, I'd rather be mugged at gunpoint if I had to choose. Let's just hope it never comes to that.


Catherine said...

That is why dogs (sometimes) are nice to have. Even if an intruder comes in, they hear that growl in the dark (or not the dark) and will likely bolt the other direction.

ryan said...

Yeah, I've never wanted a dog, but I'm thinking that living someplace like this, they're useful to have around. Now I know why EVERYONE in my neighborhood has one. :-)