There are times when your luck changes so rapidly, that a rush of adrenaline propels your heart into high speed and perspiration abounds like the Minnesota mosquito. This is a moment of horror, excluding the relativity of every situation, of course. Indeed, Steve recently awoke in the middle of the night, full of panic and thinking he had been suddenly summoned to some immediate, terrible disaster. It took him a minute to realize his dream wasn’t real and that he could relax into sleep once more. But other times, the horror is real (relatively speaking, of course).
On the morning of July 11, Steve awoke in the lovely home of his aunt and uncle who had left for a vacation in France. He was to be responsible for the simple tasks of house and cat sitting. The morning started with the cozy anticipation that he had always felt in that domestic space. Even if the day was spent lazily, the lovely house always held a promise that something exciting would happen. He had spent many nights there and this particular morning, he had the warm feeling of making amiable progress with Titan, the shy and peculiar cat with whom he had an uncertain relation with until that moment.
It appeared to be a fantastic summer day outside and Steve spent the afternoon in the porch, reading in his underwear and waiting for the laundry to finish drying. It was an unusual treat to have the entire lovely house all to himself and it felt refreshing doing the minor daily chores before going to work. The sad music of Nick Cave bounced off the light and easy nature of the morning, spinning upwards and then falling in mid-air nostalgia. As the clock was ticking towards his departure time, he even thought to look out to the garage and verify that he was not parked in. The house was lovely.
With soft carpet and clean counters, it was truly a pleasure, especially the porch area, which always was one his favorite rooms. It had a warm feel and woody smell to it that was formative to his early understanding of “Minnesota.” From the patio leading into the house, there is a large sliding-glass door, as well as a small window to the first floor bathroom. He could hear the music in his underwear and enjoy the fresh air and grassy surroundings in the back yard. Before leaving for work, he made sure to lock the glass door and then stepped out into the garage in nothing but his boxers, covered in neon-colored flamingoes (one of his favorites). He stepped out, but was suddenly denied a step back in. The door was locked.
The door: locked. The door to the lovely house was locked. Nick Cave pleaded to him through the doors of the lovely house. The outside door of the patio was open, but the glass door was locked. The front door was also locked. He was locked out. In his boxers, in a neighborhood where he knew not a single person.
“He concluded that he could leave the scene of the fictional crime after a quick clean-up in the hallway, covered in glass shards.”
Forgoing pride, he had to think and work fast. He spent little time anguishing over the situation. Interestingly enough, he had been in this kind of situation before. This situation, however, certainly had its particularities, including the ticking clock. He had less than one hour and few choices; he needed to get inside that lovely house. Fortunately, he had access to the patio from the outside, and after a preliminary examination of the exterior of the lovely house and its possible entry points, he concluded that he had to enter by force through the small window in the patio and create a gap into the bathroom.
Did he really have to break into that lovely house?
Once broken, could he even fit through the window unharmed?
He had all the resources the garage had to offer. What proved to be most useful, were the white golf/tennis shoes with heavy grass stains, a heavy hammer, a chair and his aunt’s yoga mat. After bracing himself and considering his options one last time, Steve had to make the move. He must act forcefully and unilaterally against the window, laying shift blows against the glass that stood between himself and the space that was crucial to his being in that particular moment. This period of contemplation pulsed with shaky hesitation at taking such a violent stance towards the lovely house he had forever loved. He did have to break into this house. He had all the tools and the disposition. But did he really have to break into the lovely house?
The first attempts were futile. The silly screw-driver device he used at first (after concluding that he could not somehow disassemble the window frame) proved too weak and the glass somehow had a flexibility that rejected its thrust. He then returned to the garage and located the heavy hammer. The wind was picking up and the huge trees hovering above the patio seemed to calm his jumping nerves. Maybe the wind would also hide the sharp sounds of breaking and entering. Titan anxiously paced on the opposite side of the sliding glass door and sensed that something was wrong. The sad melody from the stereo resonated, “and no more shall we part…” In the white shoes and flamingo boxers, Steve returned to the obstinate window heavily armed.
Wrapping a delicate red blanket around his naked torso to deflect flying glass, he made the definitive swings that would ensure entry. Part of his earlier deliberations included questioning if his body would actually fit through that space once broken. It was a chance, but one that he had to take. The window finally succumbed in a blast of flying glass and crashing shards. The pummeled edges gave lift-off to his heart rate and he proceeded to clear the narrow slot for his body. Fortunately, the jagged frame could now be raised entirely by mechanism and therefore out of the picture.
After observing the destruction on the bathroom floor, counter and toilet, he then threw the Yoga mat squarely onto the floor to avoid any unnecessary gashes. He succeeded in getting my body through the window, head-first and in a sweat, and thought rapidly and chaotically about what to do next. Would anyone show up during the day and find the house broken into, creating some unnecessary panic? He concluded that he could leave the scene of the fictional crime after a quick clean-up in the hallway, covered in glass shards. At this point, after rejoicing at his apparent success, Steve was suddenly hit with another terror: where was Titan the cat?
Indeed, in the adrenaline rushed state and in the fury of trying to get ready for work (the clock continued ticking), he had foolishly left the patio door open a crack. It was then that he saw Titan’s shining and mischievous grey coat and cool jewel eyes in the bushes along side the back of the house. Steve calmly approached him and gently picked him up, hoping he would not retaliate and escape into the suburban brush. Thankfully, they made it back inside and Steve quickly diffused another potential disaster.
But what really happened? Is this a story of quick-thinking and successful action taken in an adverse situation, or was it suggestive of absent-mindedness and irresponsibility? The story’s conclusion has yet to be written, as aunt and uncle have not yet returned from vacation.
Thank you Steve, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2009 by Jacob Miller and Story of My Life®