by ninameetscafe

Last Thursday, my housemates and my apartment was broken into, and it left us feeling grateful and sad all at once.

I had heard from somewhere, maybe a movie, that such events of domestic disturbance can leave a sense of rawness behind them. This came to mind for some reason. When I came home after work on Thursday, my housemates were all in, July was cooking and looked up and suggested I look upstairs for anything I was missing; we’d been robbed. Oh, so this time we were why those police cars were out there, I said. I had assumed it was their routine gang activity check-in, which has increased over the last couple of months. Upstairs, a few things were strewn about on the floor and Aimee’s separate room looked a bit harassed. The scene was tinged with a weird flavor of unfamiliarity or exposure. The second floor bathroom window screen had a little hole in a corner and was lying fallen at the bottom of our bathtub, so we presumed that was the point of entry. The first floor balcony below was open, which we imagined was the point of exit. Anyway, we soon got to itemizing what had been taken, drawing out renter’s insurance documents from our files, and calling numbers, and Aimee and Melanie drove to Home Depot to get more screw-on window fasteners. By 8:30/9 p.m., we were exhausted and finally sitting down for dinner and craving prayer.

Over the dining table we began to process what happened. We were thanking God for our meal and found ourselves all on the same page: in awe of our crazy awesome past nine months together, that we were safe, loved each other, had learned so much about being women and people from each other, had been robbed of nothing important. It was like a capstone moment. July was moving out in a few day and I have a month left. It was even rare we happened to be in the house altogether that evening. Gosh, what a moment. It was so rich with gratitude, and I was so in awe of my housemates and their amazing love and thankfulness to God. In light of this all, we were also hit with concern for whoever it was that had been in our house.

The next morning was unexpectedly hard for all of us. By mid-morning we were all at our respective offices, emailing each other the same sentiment: sleep had been a struggle, and daylight had brought a certain sad gravity along. We had come to a slow consensus the night prior that, given the selection of items taken and the delicate way things had been handled, it had probably been a girl. And that girl had probably spent a considerable amount of time with our home before leaving. I had this weird, dreamy vision of us hosting the girl for dinner and learning she was on the verge of breaking in, and each of my housemates responding by giving her even more than she planned to take. Nevertheless, that person remains anonymous, and we will likely never know her name or what more we might have given her face to face.

If/when I tell this to people, there’s a good chance it will go into their mental bucket of “things that happen to people in East Palo Alto” or similar; our house is now a part of that crime statistic (this was our third 911 call this year, after all). Additionally, I don’t have much right to shrug off bad EPA connotations as uninformed stereotypes anymore. I don’t know why I’m so self-conscious about that.

It’s okay. The greatest takeaway God left for us that Thursday was a reminder of how good and rich this year has been. There’s still that pull of sorrow, but my three dear friends remind me to keep hope. They’ve showed me how real people can live out God’s words of grace and love.