This post has been a long time coming. It is for my dear friend, J. Who is not naïve and certainly not a fool. We do not think like them because we are not like them. And we do not want to be like them.
Eleven years ago last month. It was a Sunday night. I had been at Andy’s house but decided to sleep at home that night rather than having to run home early the next morning to shower and dress for work. My apartment was four, adorable rooms on the first floor of a two-family, that I had painstakingly decorated myself. My sanctuary. It was in a college area and within easy walking-distance of nearly everything. An elderly woman was my landlady and my next door neighbors were my sister’s in-laws.
That night, I entered my apartment and - just like in every cheesy detective novel - the house simply “felt funny”. I walked through the living room to the double doors of my bedroom and peered inside, seeing nothing. I retraced my steps and walked through the kitchen, to my bedroom’s other door, flipping on lights as I went. Again, I saw nothing. I stood in front of my closet door and reached for the knob. As I did so, the door opened. In front of me stood my old boyfriend.
His name is S and we had spent several angry, hurtful years together a long time ago. It had ended with me moving out of the apartment we had shared for less than a year, back in with my mother, and within a few months, into my sanctuary. He had been to this apartment before. During the “we can still be friends” foolishness as I tried to take the high road. Eventually, after many fights and threats, and even a call to my father to have him removed, we fizzled out.
So five years later, I stood face to face with him again. He was six years older than me, making him 36 at the time. He looked ages older.; The mileage was taking its toll. I didn’t scream. I simply gasped and backed up through the door and into the kitchen with my hand to my heart. I grabbed the wall phone. He only said, “please don’t”. And for a second, I didn’t. My old, co-dependent self was telling me if he simply went away, it would be enough. I didn’t want to create a scene, or make things bad for him. Then I said “no.” Maybe it was out loud. Maybe it was only to myself. But I dialed 911.
He took off, I think through the dining room window. The police told me to go to a neighbor’s. I had my cell phone and called Andy as I ran next door. My sister’s mother-in-law answered her door immediately. “S was in my closet!” I yelled simultaneously into my cell and to her. She pulled me inside and locked the door. Andy’s previously-sleepy hello turned instantly awake and he told me to stay where I was, he was leaving right away.
The police were there in moments. Andy’s car came bombing down the wrong way of my one-way street what seemed like seconds later. Of course they didn’t find him. I sat with the officer and answered his questions and told my story. It was the first time Andy had heard much of it. My brother, having been notified via my sister, who had received a call from her mother-in-law, also showed up. He conducted his own search and I think it made him feel better to do so. When I talked to my mother, she used words I didn’t even know were in her vocabulary.
Everyone wanted me to sleep at their houses that night. I didn’t want to. This was my home and I wasn’t going anywhere. Of course, Andy stayed the night with me. We didn’t fall asleep for a long, long time. As I was dozing off, I remembered that feeling from when we were young. Of not wanting your arm or leg to hang off of the edge. Because the monsters under the bed might get you.
The next day, I went to my district court and filed my very first restraining order.