You would think that after living overseas in a third world country I would have developed a thicker skin and to expect the unexpected, and if not that at least be comfortable doing things a bit out of the ordinary.
Evidently this isn’t the case.
Last night I was staying at my mom’s apartment, alone, preparing for a highly anticipated jaunt to San Francisco to visit Mills the next morning. As I pulled off the last piece of clothing from the day I heard the blaring cry of a car alarm. Since I’ve never owned a vehicle worth having a security system on, I shrugged it off and continued moisturizing my inside heater-parched skin. That is until the persistent noise finally caught my attention and peered out the window to check what idiot wasn’t turning their alarm off. The flashing of my lights told me that it was, in fact, me who could step up to the plate as “the idiot”.
I threw on the first thing I could find and pulled it around myself, chucked on some shoes, and swung open the door to see my passenger window smashed to pieces and a white sedan pull away. “Well fuck”. I thought to myself surveying the damage to my new (old) car and crunching around on broken glass to check what was missing. Like a chump, I had decided it was safe to leave all five of my chock full suitcases, yeah the same ones that cost me an arm and a leg to check on my last flight, in the back of the rig and someone decided that there MUST something valuable in one of those honkers. There was (and it’s all now stored in a safe place so don’t even think about it) and they didn’t get their paws on the loot. So there.
Needless to say, I was freaked out. My mom was out of town for the night, it was past midnight on a Thursday so no one was answering their phones- I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t either- and there was at least one thief trolling the neighborhood. The police wanted me to file a report online but alas, the feature of reporting a crime is only available through Internet Explorer for Windows! Word. So…people who get stolen from simply cannot do anything immediately to calm their nerves if they own a Mac. Thanks Tacoma Police Department. I then found out that my insurance has a $500 deductible on windows and doesn’t coverage theft (I’m paying $300 per month for this why? As a previous insurance sales gal I should know, but I don’t) so add insult to car injury- and check out my skinny bank account!
On top of that I had a niggling worry about how I was going to get to the airport. I haven’t used public transport except for tuk-tuks and motos for about five years so the thought was a little nerve-wracking to hop on a bus and hope I made it to the airport. Add to the whole scenario that I’m flying with a buddy pass and couldn’t figure out the flight loads et al. I was basically feeling like a massive baby at this point, weighing people down with my neediness and imagined incapability to do much in a first world setting. Even with several of my Passport pages filled up with travels across the globe, attempted purse snatchings when the thief is less than a foot away from me on a speeding motorcycle, and planning jaunts to other counties solo- I felt incredibly small, alone, and very silly.
It was in those moments of what I felt was uselessness that I realized how much I need support, how much I appreciate those who came to my rescue when I needed it most in a vulnerable state (massive shouts to Ryan and E and Rachel- I owe you mountains of pizza and fountains of stars), and the grace of those who couldn’t do anything but dealt with my panicked 2am crabbiness (mom, Ritchie, Jacob, Justin…sorry). Grateful for my dear little sister and her boyfriend, for coming over even with a full work day looming in six hours to help me secure my things for the time being and give me a shoulder to cry on.
Was I really that upset or that sad that my car had been broken into? No. Angry, disappointed? Yes. Was I really that terrified that these little rats were going to come back and pull The Crazies on me? No. Lonely and nervous in a new-old city? Yes. Sure the financial loss is one thing (sigh after sigh), but the should-be obvious realization that there are still going to be frustrations even back home and the feeling of inability to deal with them alone was the biggest shock of all.
In Phnom Penh, I was physically safer in many aspects than I ever was or possibly will be living stateside. I resided on the fifth floor of a gated, two guarded, surveillance taped, elevator access key required building where nothing was ever stolen and ferried around in taxis with tinted windows, deep seats, and locked doors. Even my office in a massive, shiny high rise required double key access entry with different cards to get into the lobby. I was Rapunzel in her fortress and one could only get in once I let down my long peroxide damaged hair. I had friends who lived down the street, upstairs in the same apartment building and if they weren’t available, someone was always a quick WhatsApp message or a moto rev away. People seem to take care more in Cambodia when they receive middle of the night calls than here, maybe I drunk dialed too many times before I moved abroad.
I feel like I’ve taken a few steps back as far as independence in some ways and leaps forward in others. I was able to call my insurance company and make a claim and do these big adult seeming things but felt like a little girl on her pink plastic cell phone ringing the police all the same. Do we ever really feel like adults or is that something that we’ll be waiting for until our hands are withered, back to wearing diapers, and still wanting to watch cartoons?
This must be the re-acclimating process I knew would come. It’s been minimal day to day other than for my lack of direction in some ways but when something slightly out of the ordinary occurs, particularly in a negative sense, it does shake things up a bit. It allows me to notice the massive change of coming back to the United States and settling into a semblance of a life and that it’s not going to be as simple and stream lined as I thought it would be.
Now that I’ve got a police report, a stateside trip (almost), and insurance claim under my belt I feel a little bit more prepared for junk like this. Sure it was an inconvenient, expensive, and frustrating thing to deal with- but I’m counting on it being worth it in lessons I’ve learned and the larger, positive impact of it in the future. I just have to remind myself that yet again, these are first world problems and things could have been a lot worse.
Still though, Tacoma, come on. I love you, but two middle fingers in the air to you today.