When it happened, I immediately started thinking about how I would write about it.
Is this what writers do when something truly terrible happens to them? They write it all down and publish it - a public processing. Or maybe they write it in a journal - a private processing. Talk therapy, writing therapy, call it what you want.
Three weeks ago, we walked out of Island Burger in Roseville, CA and found two windows of our car smashed. My purse, along with every single portable electronic device that we owned, was stolen. We sat on a curb in the parking lot calling banks, closing down cards, freezing accounts. We waited for the police and filed a report. We called glass repair places looking for someone, anyone to fix our windows. (Because that's the thing about broken windows, shards of glass strewn all over the front seat, the back seat, hanging precariously around the window frame: no one one can help you. Not AAA. Not the police. No one.)
"Well," the policeman said, "I'd recommend finding a car wash place so you can vacuum up the glass, then find a Home Depot so you can duck tape some canvas around the window and drive home."
All of those propositions seemed insurmountable. And home? This was the start of a holiday weekend. A getaway from the normal and boy, was it ever.
I could barely think. I felt gutted, violated, angry, scared, all the cliches. But most of all I felt bereft. I has lost every single writing notebook with all of my ideas, thoughts, stories. I had lost my laptop and I didn't know what was backed up. Creations that could never be re-purchased.
My husband found the one place in Sacramento that could replace our windows. As if by magic, they had only two left, and if we got there by 4pm, they could do it in a few hours.
We wiped as much glass as we could out of the car. Then we sat on our winter coats and buckled in. Me with the kids in the back, because my front seat belt wouldn't work. I huddled next to my son, holding another winter coat over our heads so glass from the window wouldn't fly into our faces on the highway.
Under that coat, with the wind roaring in, I wept. I wept for the loss of everything I had ever written. I wept for my stupidity, my naivety. This was all my fault. I had asked for it. This is what I get. I brought this upon myself and my family. The same thought-tape running through every woman's head who had ever been victimized. To every woman I have told this story, they have stopped me and said, "This is not your fault. They are the ones who stole from you. They are the ones who broke the law."
Rationally, I know this, but I'm really good at beating myself up for things. I committed the ultimate female sin: I tempted the bad guys. I left a bag in plain site in my locked car. I deserve this.
Over the past 21 days, I started identity theft monitoring services, I got a new driver's license, new medication to replace what was stolen, a new retainer for my son, since his old one was in my computer bag.
As it turns out, I was backing up all of my contacts, texts, and photos. But I had not clicked the extra button to back up documents and so every document was lost from the last nine years. I remembered the countless times I thought of checking to see if everything was backing up properly, and the countless times I used my meager minutes of free time to write. Yes, yes, the grasshopper and the ant. Winter is here and I'm left out in the cold. Is there a Game of Thrones reference in here somewhere?
There is something regenerative about starting over, new soil for growth and all, but that landscape is so very barren. I re-started the children's book I was working on and now it is one of three lonely documents on my new computer.
That Friday night, while we waited for our car windows to be repaired, a very nice woman showed us the restrooms and asked us if we needed anything. We met her young son and I commented on the beautiful Buddhist display at the front that contained incense, statues of gods, offerings of fruit and gifts. Her husband came out around 7pm and told us our car was ready.
"We feel blessed to have been able to help you," he said, slightly bowing to us.
Again, I wanted to weep.
My husband and I decided to press on with our vacation. Sometimes, there's just no point in turning back.