This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for the the fact that I’m with my two sisters. I’m at my sister Heelya and her boyfriend Brian’s place in Conway, S.C., which is a darling house, despite what happened last night.
The bed I’m lying in right now, tucked under layers of blankets next to PK, is so warm and plush. Even Heelya’s pug Owen snoring under the covers, is warm and plush. He’s curled up on my feet. I can feel his chin resting on my toes. My foot vibrates every time he breathes in.
It took PK and I nine hours and three tanks of gas to get here. I’m grateful that my old Honda held up. We took the back roads through the middle of Florida, passing every tumbledown neon fruit stand selling oranges and peanuts from Ocala to Jacksonville.
It’s chilly out and I’m grateful for that. The weather in South Carolina is at least 20 degrees cooler than Florida. We bundled up last night when we went out for Mexican food followed by beers at a bar called Fats, where we played darts and Baba O’Riley on the jukebox.
I’m grateful I filed at least one story for the newspaper before I left town, because last night when we got back to Heelya’s house, her front door was ajar, the window in her living room was shattered and my laptop with every assignment I’d ever written and every subject I’d ever photographed since August 2007, was stolen.
It was the only thing lifted.
My sister’s laptop, the one I’m using right now, was untouched. Brian’s Xbox was untouched. The other two laptops in their office, untouched. Mine was what they wanted. A grab-and-go kind of thing. They must have spotted it through the vertical blinds, sitting on the bed in Heelya’s spare bedroom, plugged in, charging because I have work to finish on deadline while I’m here.
I actually wrote a story on the car ride up while PK drove. I figured I’d finish the ending this morning, but now the whole thing is gone, including half my notes, which were typed in a Word document and saved on the desktop. When an officer from the Conway Police Department asked me how much it was worth, I said, “a thousand bucks, but the files on it are invaluable.”
The ironic thing is that the hard drive is entirely full. So full that two weeks ago I purchased an external hard drive with one terabyte of space, but Joe and I couldn’t figure out how to format it for a Mac, so we never backed up my files. We figured we’d deal with it once I got back from South Carolina. Procrastination. Again.
It’s a computer, I realize that. Just a material thing filled with Word documents, photographs and two chapters in my lousy novel. In a way I suppose it’s my own fault. I should have backed up my work ages ago.
Last night, after the police officer had left Heelya’s place and Brian had combed the house to make sure nothing else had been stolen, I retreated to my sister’s office to begin rewriting the story I had written on the car ride up.
PK tiptoed into the room.
“Hey,” she said. “I remember a few of the woman’s quotes from that story.”
I had read it out loud to her while she was driving and didn’t think she was paying attention at the time. As she began to recite the best quote of the story with better accuracy than I could muster myself, I thought: this is what I’m grateful for. This moment, stored in my memory bank. Safe from burglars.
When nothing was left to discuss, postulate or bitch about, we all decided that enough was enough for the night, and then slipping into bed with all our most valuable possessions near us, we fell asleep unsettled and settled at the same time.
I’m frustrated and disgusted, but as my father would say, “shit happens, kiddo.”
It’s Thanksgiving and I’m grateful to be with my sisters. While two years of work is impossible to replace, it’s just work. A livelihood. I created it once and I’ll create it again.
I can hear church bells ringing up the street and I can smell my sister cooking in the kitchen. Next to me PK is asleep under a corduroy blanket. I just noticed she has a plastic clip in her hair. It looked uncomfortable to sleep with, so I quietly pinched it out of her bangs and tossed it into the suitcase by our bed.
Heelya is making Belgian waffles for breakfast and Brian just ran to the grocery store to get strawberries for my favorite salad. I’m grateful for all of this and so much more.
Perspective people. Perspective. Arrrgh.
PS. The photo is of me, Heelya & PK last night on the Riverwalk in Conway, S.C. shortly before we came home and discovered Heelya’s house had been burglarized.