On December 23rd, someone(s) broke into my house. I was at work when it happened. Work. That place I go to so I can afford my (admittedly) modest house. I walked in the backdoor like I always do and noticed some of my guitars sitting on my dining room table. No one else has a key to my house, I live alone, and I always leave my guitars hanging up in my music room. Especially on Tuesday. I was very confused but rationalized that a friend had come into my house and played my guitars. Then I noticed my TV was gone. And then I noticed the cold air blowing in through the hole in my room where my a window used to be. And suddenly nothing else mattered. I was so concerned about my dog. The stupid little fleabag shitmachine money pit was the only thing that mattered. Normally, when I walk in the door, she starts barking. She's a lab-mixed-with-some-other-stuff, so what would one expect? She was silent. I figured that whoever stole my TV and moved my guitars had just killed my dog.
I don't love many things. I don't love many people. I am becoming more and more reclusive as I get older. I am terrible at relationships and dating. I pick the wrong women to date. They sleep with me (sometimes) and then I don't hear from them again. One of them last fall said she slept with me because she felt "comfortable" with me. Suffice to say, I won't be talking to her again. But I do love my dog.
She just sat there quietly in her cage. I immediately let her out.
I called someone to board up my broken window. Of course you know where this is going.
I left town the next morning for Christmas. Everything was fine. The family got along well, which is unusual for my family. Everyone kept asking me how I was doing and I told them (and genuinely meant) that I was fine.
I walked in the door on Sunday afternoon after Christmas to a cold house. I left the heat off. I expected a cold house. The first thing I checked was the boarded up window. The board was still intact. Or so I thought. The boards didn't stop anyone from coming in again. My computer with years of pictures and videos? Gone. Some of my clothes? Gone. Every guitar in my house? Gone. That hurt. That hurt the most.
I called the police. I called friends. I sat on my kitchen floor and cried for half an hour. The police came and took inventory. My friends came and brought me whiskey. One friend even stayed the the night in my spare bedroom. I passed out on my bed but didn't really sleep. I moved every time I heard a noise.
I opened my eyes at two am to find that I was, indeed, still alive.
I bought items to help secure my house. Security cameras. Security system. Security system. None of these in and of themselves have brought back the security I used to feel.
I spoke with the Detective. I gave her a detailed list of every thing that was taken from me. Things that I had had for 20 years. The piece of shit Peavey Fury bass that I haven't played in ages but am still holding onto so that, if I ever find a woman that doesn't sleep with me just to sleep with me because I make her "comfortable" and that really does love me and we have a son or daughter, I can give it to them and tell them of the days when their dad used to be pretty cool and played music and that I wasn't always the guy who wore the five fingered toe shoes and khaki shorts. I spoke with my insurance company and provided the same list. I read that 13% of all burglarized goods are ever recovered. I resolved myself to the fact that everything was gone.
I took to the anonymity of reddit to vent. I just got a bunch of smartass responses. I should have known better. I took to instagram looking for sympathy and got it. I researched ways to cope with violent crimes.
A week later, I received a notice that the police had a lead on several of my guitars and I was asked to meet the detective working on my case at a pawn shop. You know... Where you have to provide ID, are videotape, and are photographed if you are trying to sell something. I walked into the first store, met with the detective who informed me that the clerk had just gone back into storage to see if two guitars that were pawned here were mine. He came out a few moments later with two of them. I said "Absolutely. Those are mine."
We found five more of my guitars that day. Pawned with three miles of my house. Pawned within half a mile of each other.
The detective asked me if I knew the name of the person who pawned my stuff. I didn't. All three clerks at all three shops told us the same thing: that the woman who pawned them was being told what to do by two men that were with her. I saw the photographs of the two men and didn't recognize either of them. Random, run of the mill, common fucking thieves.
I got my guitars back today. Well, all of them but one. It's a Gretsch Electromatic. Bright orange with a Bigsby tremolo and dice for the volume and tone knobs. If anyone in Nashville sees this floating around, let me know. But I just acquired it a few months ago and if there were one that I had to lose, it was that one. I had very little emotional attachment to it.
But what I can't get back, in addition to the years of pictures and videos, is that peace of mind I used to have when I locked my door at night or when I left for work. That naivety.
I sleep with an alarm system now. I sleep with the surveillance cameras running. And I sleep with night lights on in my house. I forget to eat meals or I'm just not hungry altogether. I forget to go shopping. I forget that this is a process and not something I can just turn off. I'm a man who likes straight lines and this is a series of colors instead.
Things can be replaced. I still have my dog. One day, I'll get back to where I started.
Arrest warrants have been issued. Maybe these guys will get their day in court. Maybe they'll float on through life. Maybe they'll be flipping burgers or bagging groceries or building front end modules for an auto company and going home at the end of the day and watching my big screen TV. I don't know what people like that do. That's because I am still getting up early in the morning and going to work so that I can afford my meager house and my mutt of a dog and trips of a lifetime.
It's hard to resist the urge to check my surveillance cameras every ten minutes. It's hard to resist checking the burglar alarm every time I check my email. It's hard to leave my dog out in the house because she eats my shoes. But that's where I am.
Through this, so far, I think I am becoming a gentler person. The only way out is up.
Thank you for listening. Goodnight.