I stopped making New Year resolutions in 1998. That was the year that my home was burglarized and vandalized by a ring of teen-age thugs roaming the streets of Anchorage, AK. You can’t know the violation of that sort of thing unless you’ve experienced it personally.
I arrived home from work one day and realized immediately that something was wrong. My apartment smelled like bleach, and although nothing registered as being obviously out of place, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. As I looked around, the first thing I noticed missing was my saxophone, which I kept on a stand near the hearth of my fireplace. The moment I realized that someone had been in my apartment, I went to the hiding spot where I kept my gun. It, too, was gone. At that point, panic set in, and I called 911.
After reporting the burglary, which the dispatcher took with an almost bored demeanor, I started to take stock of what was missing. My home hadn’t been ransacked, exactly, but a lot was stolen—all of my jewelry, all of my lingerie, my leather jacket, my saxophone, my entire CD collection. My gun, ammo, and all of my target shooting gear, from paper targets to shooting glasses and earmuffs. Yet, to a stranger walking in my door, nothing appeared out of place.
Drawers were shut, closet doors were closed. Nothing, besides the lock on my front door, appeared to have been damaged. It was only upon closer inspection that I began to discover the malicious acts of vandalism that accompanied the theft. I couldn’t figure out where the smell of bleach was coming from until I opened my closet door to look for my ammunition. It was then I discovered that someone had poured Clorox all over the clothes hanging in my closet and then carefully put the empty bottle of bleach back in the laundry closet where it belonged. Every stitch of clothing in my closet was ruined.
I thought it was strange that they didn’t steal my computer. Later, I discovered they tried to destroy it instead by pouring milk all over the keyboard and tower. They put the empty carton of milk back in the refrigerator. I had a Bowflex at the time, and they partially cut all of the cables on that machine. Either they weren’t strong enough to cut the cables entirely, or they hoped I wouldn’t notice the cuts and the cables would snap while I worked out. The final act of spite I discovered is that the burglars took the piece of paper on which I’d written my resolutions for that year and placed it carefully, face up, in my toilet. I haven’t put any New Year resolutions in writing since that year.
When an officer finally showed up to take my statement (hours after I’d called 911), the second assault came when he looked at me accusingly and asked what I did to make someone hate me so much to so maliciously attack my home. I hardly knew anyone in Anchorage at that time. I’d been living there for less than two years, and all I ever did was work. I didn’t know anyone outside of my coworkers, and I knew very few of them well. I realized in that moment that I would get no help at all from the police. I never felt more alone.
About two years later, the police splashed the nightly news with reports that they’d busted a ring of teen-aged burglars who had been wreaking havoc in South Anchorage for over a year. I called and spoke with the lead investigator to tell him I believed that I was probably one of their first victims. He said he’d look into it, but of course I never heard from him again. I don’t doubt that some of the things stolen from me were recovered in that bust, but they never bothered to match the goods they recovered with the traceable items I’d reported stolen. My tax dollars at work…
That burglary was a turning point for me in many ways. I became even more isolated and withdrawn. More distrustful; more cynical. I refused to become more fearful, however, so I did three things with the settlement I got from my insurance company: I immediately replaced my gun, I adopted a 3-year-old 100-pound Giant Schnauzer named ‘Ricky’ who would be my constant companion and protector for the next eight years, and I used the remainder of the insurance settlement to make a down payment on a house so I could get out of that apartment (and out of south Anchorage, which was plagued with gangs).
Life went on. I lived in Anchorage for seven more years after that incident. Happily, for the most part; but I never did make many friends there, and it never really felt like home. Were it not for Ricky (that’s him, pictured above, enjoying a dip in his favorite creek at his favorite dog park in Anchorage) and my job, I’d have been an almost total recluse in those years. Although I still set certain goals for myself, I never wrote them down again because the image of my New Year resolutions from 1998 staring up at me from the toilet is permanently etched in my mind.
One goal I set in 2004 was to move back to Colorado in 2006. I achieved that goal, and I’ve resided in Colorado ever since. Ricky was almost eleven years old by then, and suffering from terminal cancer. He died May 26, 2007 and left an irreparable hole in my heart. Our feline friend and companion, Jade, died suddenly and unexpectedly six months later. I’ve often wondered if her sudden death was partly because she missed Ricky. It is my sincerest wish that he’ll come back to me someday soon in a fresh, healthy body, brimming with the thrill for adventure for which he was so well known. I see much of Jade’s sweet spirit in Rose, so if Ricky returns again, our little triad of entangled souls will be complete once again.
I’m not starting 2015 with any specific resolutions, but I have resolved to be happier and healthier than ever this year. My life has been on a sharp upward trend for the past two years. I married my best friend in 2013, and I gained a beautiful stepdaughter and a wonderful extended family in the process. My husband’s career is flourishing, which has in turn given me the space and freedom to reinvent myself professionally. I don’t know yet exactly what that’s going to look like, but I am confident that this is the year my new profession will begin to take shape.
My dearest girlfriend just got engaged to the love of her life on Christmas Eve. Jenn and I have been through a lot together in the seven plus years that we’ve been friends, so I couldn’t be happier that we’ve found our happily-ever-afters at essentially the same time. Her first date with her fiancee, Austin, was just three days after Matt and I got married. Interestingly, Austin grew up in Alaska. It’s funny how life plays out and how small this world that we live in really is…
Happy New Year, friends and followers. May 2015 be a wonderful year for all.