It’s not quick, there’s the immediate oddness of something out of place, but then you figure out what it is. It’s gone. Well, maybe not gone but it’s not where you left it. That’s the one thing you know for sure. Not where it ought to be. You doubt yourself at first, “well it didn’t just walk off”. You look in all the normal places. Maybe it got washed. Or… maybe it got put away, or stashed here? Finally you are looking in the abnormal places. Every cabinet, every drawer. You check and recheck because, obviously… things don’t just grow legs. Maybe it fell down back here.
So you look under stuff. Around stuff. On top of things. Inside containers. You look in unexpected places, places it would make no sense to find the lost item. But you are hoping now because you don’t want to accept that it has happened again. The feeling starts to creep into the bottom of your stomach, and you double search everything you already searched. You start creating elaborate secret areas maybe you haven’t checked. Maybe you should check the trash bag in the can, see if it fell in there. Maybe you should check the bags of trash outside to make sure it didn’t go out before you noticed. Maybe you should wash the muck from your hands and check all the drawers again.
Accepting that someone stole something from you is sickening. It is not the happenstance of a car change tray theft, the suddenness of a pickpocketing, or the abstractness of an identity theft; a burglarization in the place you sleep. While you were away from your house, somebody perused at leisure, coveted, and finally took their choice of your possessions. Just up and decided it was theirs. They deserved it more than you did, or need it more, or just wanted it more, or maybe just fuck you for not being here to stop them. Whatever the reason, it was theirs now and not yours. It has been taken.
It does not end. Ever. You wonder after that thing you lost every time you lose something new to theft. You add it to the tally. Things that people thought I did not deserve. Things people believed I could live without but they could not, charitably.
My home was burglarized twice when I was a child, once when I was too young to remember and once that I discovered, a bicycle stolen and recovered, a car stolen once, recovered months later after I had moved to another state and left for the state to deal with, and a significant sum (to the person who was losing it) of money stolen twice, and my dignity stolen, once very publicly.
These thefts uniformly happened while I slept or was at play. Each time it is a fresh shame, and one without recompense. There is no assailant to fight back against and the chances of the police finding who did it or what they took is about the same as the thieves growing some kind of moral fiber and returning the item themselves. Each time upon realizing what had happened, my stomach upturned, my adrenaline dumped, and I found myself utterly without outlet for my rage or my sadness. Today I simply shuddered in my kitchen, shifting my weight from foot to foot, sweating that piss on hot metal smell through the armpits of my shirt and clenching my fists. Without outlet.
In each case, there was nobody who cared as much as me and nobody to ask to repay. Since my first experience with the parlor trick of contacting the police to report a burglary, naively calling the station for an update a week later, a month, I have been disabused of the notion that there is a step two. There is only the maddening, sometimes-still-wondering-what-else-was-stolen-but-went-unnoticed stomach clenching shame of it.
I spent years letting these accumulated losses, my tally, turn me into a nobody, a person who stayed at home all the time, to protect his things. I had decided the decadence of letting my guard down for a moment must be a sin, because surely I was punished. It must be that the world saw my weakness and exploited it. I spent years turning into a nobody, with no friends to trust too far. With nobody to love so nobody could break my heart. A nobody with nothing worth having so nobody else would be tempted to steal it. A person so paranoid of the ill intentions of anybody not family, not kin, that I alienated everyone around me for a decade, clinging to a thief and manipulator I had adopted as kin, who helped keep me isolated and empty. Barren. And I thought that was freedom. It is a kind of freedom. The low down freedom of having nothing. Nothing ain’t worth nothing, but it’s free.
But now I have things. I always have, really, but I know it now. The shining light of my romantic partnership, the empowering and enriching nature of meditation and prayer, and my burgeoning understanding of what good friends do for one another has scoured my shitty myopic vision of freedom and liberty clear. It has scorched into my forebrain the meaning of words, beyond their literary definition. The meanings of worth, and of self-worth. Of protection and of sanctity. And of theft. What it truly is, which is disrespect made real. And the only thing you can really do in this life to make sure your precious things are not taken is to keep _them_ away from people who don’t respect _you_.