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Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Truth Of Shattered Glass.

Someone smashed our car's back windshield with a brick this weekend.

It appears to have been random, as no other cars in the area were hit and nothing was stolen from our car (not that we have much to steal, anyway, besides the kids' carseats) and it happened despite us being out slightly late on an impromptu date Friday night. The entire back windshield was shattered, and about half of it cleanly removed (perhaps so they could get the brick back? Though there was red dust and little chunks of brick throughout the back of the car) and Kiedis' car seat cover was torn in multiple places.

I saw it in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, from our house, without my glasses on, and immediately ran outside with my phone to call the police, realizing that yet again, our plans for the weekend were being hijacked by things completely out of our control. I took photos of the scene and of all the broken glass, which extended in an arc from the double yellow line in the middle of the street, on beyond the rear of the car to up on the sidewalk and even into our yard and on our front stairs. I waited amid the chaos of shatterproof shrapnel for the lone officer to arrive while Kyle called the insurance company and my dad, trying to figure out all the things you try to sort once you've been vandalized.

The officer was both helpful and not -- I learned things about our neighborhood that I didn't know, such as our pumpkins were probably stolen to be sold at a flea market, which explains why the large one and the two white ones went but not the little orange ones, and also nearly confirms it was our neighbors two houses down, who talked of their flea market selling adventures before they decided to hate us for putting a lamp post in our yard by the front stairs. I learned that they are aware of the drug activity at the rented house next door, and of our trouble with them, and that the officer agrees with my thoughts on the area only getting worse before it gets better. But I also learned there was nothing to be done about my windshield other than obtaining a case number for insurance, because as long as no one saw anything -- and conveniently, none of my neighbors did -- there's nothing worth the resources to pursue.

After he left, with the kids awesomely down for naps as this whole debacle unfolded, Kyle and I got to work cleaning up the halo of glass encircling our vehicle and figuring out what resources we had to cover the gaping hole in my car before the rain started up again.

We get quiet as we work, him carefully removing the remnants of the windshield and me sweeping up the shards from the street, and I retreat into myself as I always do, to make sense of things. My brain is incapable of reasoning out the hows and whys and the whodunits because I am a whirlwind of powerless negative emotion, raw and oozing from my lack of ability to do anything about anything but pretty much take it and try to move on, wrestling with victimization and survivorship as other people might might struggle with choosing between a turkey or a ham sandwich for lunch.

I think about how innocuous glass seems until it is broken. For a moment, upon shattering, at the right angle and by the right light, it can look like confetti or glitter or even stars as they fall from the heavens into their new resting places, and it can momentarily be beautiful in it's own way.

But reality quickly sets in, and there is a mess and possibly tears or blood or swearing and more as things that once were, once taken for granted, are no more and never to return, only replicated and replaced.

The shards become the physical manifestation of our doubts and fears and angst and heartbreak as we sweep them up so carefully so that we do not damage ourselves more than we already are. Piece by smaller piece, the glass is removed and with a heavy sigh and a sense of frustrated loss it is thrown away or maybe even bitterly recycled to become something far less significant -- that one of a kind vase will become a pickle jar; the picture frame will become mosaic craft tile; the windshield will become part of a faux granite countertop.

But the lack we face at the loss of the meaning behind the object will remain, at the memory of what once was had, be it an heirloom or a sense of safety, will be slow to heal and left in the wake will be a scar that may never completely fade, never completely let you forget about the hazards of breakable materials in a less than gentle world.

Inevitably, may it be moments or months, even years later, when you rearrange a room or finally get the car detailed or even the light will hit in just the right way and something will appear to sparkle from the depths of the floor or the floorboard or your newly-punctured foot or hand and you will in equal parts shock and angst and panic (with tinges of pain) wonder where in the everloving fuck that piece of glass came from. You will scan the immediate area for missing objects or evidence of an intruder or a less-than-truthful family member or roommate, and you will wrack your brain trying to figure out who left this finite gift of pain and confusion for you to find, only to then reopen the wound of the initial breakage, the loss dulled yet more achy than before, for those memories and feelings lost upon the initial obliteration of melted and melded sand that forced you to see things differently than how you'd become accustomed, literally and/or figuratively.

At this point in my train of thought I am inside the car, after we've removed the carseats to be washed and shook out of their clandestine weapons of toddler torture and Kyle has made a miserable attempt at taping a painter's tarp over the hatch hole where my rear windshield once was so I am fixing it as so often I have to do, and I make the foolish assumption that I am at the end of a clean up well done as a sharp prick snaps me to the immediate. There, between my first and second knuckle on my left ring finger, sticks out a nearly imperceptible sliver of glass that were it not for the slight pain and the growing itch and droplets of blood forming, I would dismiss as a piece of glitter or tinsel from our Christmas tree. But no, not two hours later after the initial discovery I am reminded that recovery from this will be a process, beyond the time it will take to get the window repaired, beyond the money it will cost us to do so and the large kinks in our short-lived holiday plans that will create.

I am reminded that for at least the rest of the winter I will be vigilant for shiny specks of doom and carnage every time that the kids and I enter and exit my car. I am reminded that unless we get a really good downpour (or perhaps some snow, as we'd usually have this time of year but haven't yet, much to my sadness) that I will be kicking and sweeping and throwing chunks of something once taken for granted as mine out back into the ghettohood, away from my car and my family and my house that we've worked so hard on, to be proud of. And I am reminded that when I have more time and energy and brainspace I will have to yet again weigh the pros and cons of staying or leaving this house and this street and starting over somewhere else that may or may not be better than where we currently are, as I make note that someday I will look back at this moment amongst a list of others as either a sign of our resilience and tenacity or a sign we refused to read until it was too late for us to recover a fraction of what we've put into this piece of the world.

But for the moment, I sigh deeply and pull the sliver out of my finger, to be tossed out the side door into the street where, for all intents and purposes, it will disappear from my realm of existence. The itching subsides and the bleeding stops, so I continue my task with a smidge more care and caution than I afforded just prior. I disallow my brain from making comments about kismet and karma and just let it go, thanking the universe, providence, and Kyle's employer for paying him his stipend money for a committee he chairs two weeks earlier than expected so that we may handle this in stride instead of in a panic.

On Sunday, whether it be as a giant Eff You to the ghettohood or just to remind ourselves that hiccups happen but don't have to slow us down, we reassembled the carseats into the car and took the kids to brunch and the children's museum and to Second Wife's house on an impromptu visit, fully enjoying our time as a family in the city we call home. The glass repair people are supposed to come out on Tuesday, but we suspect my car will have to end up in the shop anyway due to a rear defrost and windshield wiper that will also have to be reattached. We're going to need to replace Kiedis' seat with something much sooner than later, but as he has nearly grown out of the seat he's currently in that's not too much of a loss other than the the time we would have liked to properly research our options and again, another cut into our plans for Kyle's stipend that we weren't expecting.

Such is the truth of shattered glass.