Wow! Way to let almost two months roll by. I wish I could say I've just been so busy being creative and productive. Nope, not so much. Just the usual--trying to keep up with the every-days while the weeks and months flash by. I've been putting a lot of thought into how to change that but so far I haven't really come up with anything. I suspect I should get a part-time job. Have been jawing about that for a couple months now. Part of me thinks, "How would you fit THAT in?! You can hardly keep up with what you've got going now!" But I still remember when I did work full time and scrubbed the bathrooms and vacuumed up and down EVERY WEEK. Ah well...things change.
We had so much fun being at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for my birthday last year that we went again a couple weeks ago. John goes to ReMax Convention events all day while we play. Melissa got to join us this year.
Being a single mom of two, she rarely gets to do stuff like that and I'm so glad she was able to come. FUN memories to last a lifetime.
We flew home on Friday March 9. Dropped Melissa and Caleb off in front of our house at their car and drove around to the back alley to enter our garage. As the door rolled up we saw that John's bmw was missing. He said, "Where's my car!?" I believe he actually said, "DUDE! Where's my car!?" but it wasn't funny in the least. Then we saw that the door leading into the laundry room had been propped open and the dreaded knowledge instantly filled me from head to toe--we had been robbed.
My jewelry drawer, conveniently located between the sock drawer and pajama drawer in our bedroom, was my main concern and I flew up the stairs knowing what I would find. Yep--all but emptied. I had 30 rings all bagged and weighed 10k, 14k, and 18k) and 80-85 silver dollars from the 1920s, plus a few other antique silver coins and a one ounce solid gold krugerrand. All had been inherited a couple years ago and I was just waiting for the price of gold and silver to go up a little more. Not to mention every piece of sentimental jewelry I have drug through this life with me, going back to my silver diaper pin with my name engraved and my girl scout pins. My Grandmother's wedding ring set. Spare checks. ALL GONE. My Social Security card which was in an unused purse hanging on the back of the bedroom door. Both of our birth certificates in a bright red Priority Mail envelope stuck between our sweaters on the closet shelf. It was just really all so convenient for them to take EVERYTHING of importance. You could tell they had started to ransack every drawer and closet, but once someone made it to our bedroom they hollered, "Stop what you're doing! I found the motherlode!" because entire rooms were actually left alone. So I like to think that by making it easier for the bastards to find everything the damage was WAY less than it could have been. They went through my little office desk here in the computer room and took my property management checkbooks. My spare VISA card kept conveniently in the top drawer for internet shopping. uggh. It just really goes on and on.
So they took all that from our room, all important papers and mail found throughout the house, my kitchen scale and jewelry scale (effing meth-heads) the big plasma tv from the living room, my beloved Nikon camera just like the CSI guys use, 2 Wii's and all the games, CDs, a few sentimental items (which to me proves a female was in here as well) piled it all into John's car (which had his golf clubs, cart, view finders and other golf stuff, garmin, iPod, ALL business and personal checkbooks, keyrings), grabbed the spare key hanging conveniently over the washing machine and rolled out the door. Can you hear the thinly veiled "I hate myself--how could we be so stupid?" in just about every sentence so far? Yeah--it's pretty hard not to play the "If only we had done this or that!" over and over and OVER in one's head. Our daughter Kate had come over that Wednesday morning to feed the cats so I first called her. "Kate! Didn't you lock the deadbolt when you left!?" (when we walked in the front door was latched from the inside, obviously by the robbers). She said, "No, because when I got there only the button on the knob was pushed in so that's how I left it." And then I remembered Melissa being so proud of herself for checking the door before we left and just pushing in the button, and wondering why she didn't insist on doing the deadbolt because she usually does and NOT DOING IT MYSELF. And when I saw that John was leaving the garbage cans out in the alley for the whole time I knew it was a red flag that we weren't home but I didn't act on my inner voice and drag them back in. argh. It's enough to drive ya crazy if you let it.
The point is, the zombies permeated our little sense of calm security that we had enjoyed here for 17 years and that's what has rattled me the most. I'm still pretty angry about it. I know that bad things happen to good people every day. 9 out of 10 people we have shared this with have said, "Yep, that (on some level) happened to us, too." Universally speaking; it was simply our turn. I know that, and it helps to realize it wasn't personal, but it does feel personal. My first thought was "Facebook! Oh my God I posted on Facebook!" but then we started going through all the other people who knew we were gone...everyone at the Casino Melissa works with. Everyone in the local poker community John plays with. The kids with sketchy parents in our neighborhood that Caleb sometimes plays with. The new guys working the counter of the kennel where I dropped the dog off for the week. Everyone becomes suspect...and that starts to wear you down, too.
36 hours after we got home and called the police, John's bmw was spotted at the local Shell station at 6:30 in the morning. The girl driving it needed gas, and probably a Red Bull and a pack of cigarettes :-/. The cops came and knocked on our door and took John to identify the car (it had stolen plates on it)and maybe the girl. In the back of the car was all her stuff (I guess?) in duffel bags and backpacks. She was crying hysterically, claiming she had just borrowed the car to move from her ex-boyfriends house and John didn't know her. Amongst all the bags in the car was a 12x12 Priority mail box that had been kept in top of my closet. It had held a ribbon tied pile of love letters I had saved for 25 years, many greeting cards from my kids and grandkids, some proof coin sets my mother had bought at the bank in the mid80s for the girls. Now the box was crushed and full of 'trash' and rejects. All the little individual baggies that the rings had been in. My silver diaper pin and girl scout pins. Turquoise and macrame jewelry from High School, old costume jewelry, everything that had been in John's jewelry box less one dress watch. And my grandmother's ring. Seriously? How does that happen? I had been telling Erica on the phone the night before about the ring's illustrious history--back in the 60's my grandma had unknowingly lost it on Main St in Porterville. That night she realized with horror what had happened and she drove back to where she had been parked and the headlights from her car glinted off the ring; still waiting for her to come find it in the middle of the street. Erica said, "Well THAT ain't ever gonna happen again!" yet less than 24 hours later I called her back and said, "Guess what? It happened again." I like to think that the Universe said, "Alright guys. It was your turn, fair and square. But I really like you so I'm going to toss you back a bone. John--you really don't need to be getting under a car payment right now so you get your car back in good condition. And Jen, I heard you say all you really cared about was your Grandma's ring, so that's all you're going to get back." Hey, how do you or I know it doesn't work like that? :-)
It's a story we find ourselves hesitant to start because it just really does go on and on but I feel I should wrap it up for now. I think when the cops found the car and grandma's ring they felt so good about a job well done that they kinda forgot about the $26k of personal property that is STILL floating around out there. It's a good thing I'm a housewife and John's self employed because it's been almost a full time job between visiting pawn shops and contacting banks and creditors and yadayadayada...Here I sit 12 days later wondering if we will ever be visited by a detective or allowed to go see if any of our property was amongst the girl's things. I do hope that some day this year people will be tried and I'll have something else to come here and report. For now I'll just say that our blessings are many and our security is forever improved. If any of you or anyone you know can learn something from this long tale of woe then it was worth sitting and typing it all out.
I think I'll try very hard to go sit in my studio and sew now. :-)