To the man who broke into our house yesterday,
In the aftermath of the emotional chaos that ensued upon coming home to find everything turned upside-down and misplaced, I suppose I should be, as the police and friends have been telling me, grateful that no one got hurt. I know how annoying my mother’s dogs can be, and I’m amazed that you managed to pilfer through every single room while they doubtlessly barked incessantly at your intrusion, without feeling it necessary to cause them physical harm. Or perhaps you simply didn’t get the chance, and that’s why one of the kitchen knives was lying in the downstairs guest bathroom– did you drop it there in your hurry to get away?
I admit I had reservations about suspecting you of anything wrong as we neared our house and saw you in your car, saw you pull out of our driveway and disappear. I thought maybe you were simply lost and were utilizing our driveway as a place to turn around and find your rightful destination. But then I realized that our garage door was open, that the door leading into our house from the garage was open, that the lights in the house were on, and that one of my scarves was dangling from the closed trunk of my car, a scarf that had previously been lodged underneath a computer I had been planning on returning later that afternoon. Clearly, something wasn’t right. I wish I had been able to see your face through the tinted glass of the old white Ford Escort you were driving (with California license plates reading 5MLY291), but then again, maybe I don’t. Fewer details to haunt me.
Were you infuriated at your failed burglary? Were you working alone, or did you have an accomplice who was keeping an eye out for us, and if so, was he the one who jumped over the back wall and left behind an article of his clothing snagged on the stucco? I have to admit, I’m impressed with whatever means you used to notify yourself of our sudden return home, as you reacted quickly and successfully escaped, though not entirely without leaving traces of yourself here.
I say traces. Who am I kidding? Fingerprints or not, you left yourself in every part of the house, if only in the form of a vague, uninvited presence. For all the items you were planning on taking– items you bagged but never got the chance to throw into your car and instead were forced to leave in the garage– you certainly did a thorough ransacking of our residence. Did you make the mess in a desperate search for items that would make this risk worthwhile, or did you do it out of spite, a way to punish us for housing more junk than valuables? Did our lack of expensive goods make you seethe? Did my lack of designer clothes and accessories drive you to hurl the contents of my dresser across my room, to overturn my bed and knock over one of the clothing racks? Did you scorn me while you did so, cursing the girl who chooses to waste all her money on books instead of Prada?
I should be grateful. I could thank you for leaving my plants, my books, my cats, my pictures. I could thank you for not breaking any glasses, for not smashing any windows; I could thank you for leaving the stuffed elephant and bear alone in my car, for not "spraying the walls with coke or with piss," for not standing your ground when we interrupted your heist and attacking us with that knife. I could thank you for not trying to take those knives, as they were my birthday gift to my mother this year. I could thank you for not doing any lasting damage, for not leaving the house in a worse state beyond disarray. But somehow, all that feels on par with a girl thanking her rapist for not killing her, for not leaving her impregnated. As much as I have to be thankful to you for, I’m still overwhelmed by your ruthless violation of my life. For better or for worse, you’ve taken away some of my trust in this world, in this city, and you’ve turned me sour against the race of man. You’ve instilled a paranoia in me I’ve never wanted to carry.
I wish I could be a better person, but I can’t help but hope that you try to rob another house, that you break in while the owners are still home, and that they shoot you. A better person would just be happy you didn’t make off with any of the filled bags; a religious person would leave it in the hands of God to judge you– but I’ve never claimed to be a saint. I judge people. I’m judging you. And I don’t particulary care for what I’ve come up with.