I broke into a house today.
It’s been months since I’ve allowed my sociopathic shadow to call the shots but today she won. She’s harder to reason with when I’m under stress. It’s tough in my world right now. I’m tense and irritated and restless and I wanted to act out, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone, and I saw the house and I could tell the back window was unlocked and I had 30 minutes to kill and suddenly
I was inside.
Breaking into houses has always been a specialty. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember and it is one of my all-time favorite things to do – especially because of those first few seconds inside. They’re like Jonathan Franzen’s first drag off a cigarette: inhaling regret and exhaling ambivalence. And as I stood there doing just that, every ounce of my being was alert. I was uniformly present. There was no future or past. There was no fear or apprehension. And it was absolutely silent.
The silence of a house that has just been broken into is unlike any other. It’s almost like the house can’t believe what just happened and has gasped, taking all the air with it. The atmosphere is vacant. There is unimaginable stillness. I can spend an eternity in that silence – completely absorbed in the present moment and entirely at peace.
There was a time when visits like this one were a weekly – if not daily – occurrence. Alone and unsuspected, I would spend hours in other people’s houses, perusing closets and diaries – often making positive notes in the margins in the hopes one day the owner would come across them and feel a little bit less lost. Whenever life got complicated, I would simply sneak away and disappear into the silence of a house that wasn’t mine.
Today the silence didn’t last long; it was broken by the gentle tap of feline paws running down the hall and toward the dining room I was standing in. Cats are such glorious creatures. Like all the rest before her, this cat didn’t seem the least bit interested in what I was doing in her house. I picked her up and wandered around.
There was positively nothing familiar about this house except the experience of being there, which is profoundly soothing to me for reasons I’ve never been able to explain. I scanned the knick-knacks and the photos on the shelves. I took nothing. I disturbed nothing. I simply … existed in a world where I was not supposed to exist.
What I did is wrong: let me be crystal clear about that. While the previous paragraphs might have poetic verbiage, my behavior today can best be described in two words: breaking and entering.
I make no excuses for my actions other than to say that “wrong” has never felt wrong to me. There is no fear or regret – at least not in the way I’ve heard others describe it. All the same, I know it’s not what I am “supposed” to be doing. We sociopaths do know right from wrong, even if that knowledge is intellectual rather than inherent.
The cat was sad to see me go. She purred and rubbed her face against mine as I lowered the rest of my body back out the window. And just like that I was gone. Only now the California air felt much sweeter and the city less hectic. I walked out a completely different person – a whole individual. Not one whose personality was constantly split in a psychological tug of war.
In the car I had some flowers. I had stopped by the florist to cheer myself up, but the house had done a much better job. So I left them on the porch leaning against the front door. My two favorite things: blue hydrangeas and a stolen grey house. The thought made me happier than I expected. I smiled as I left and waved to the cat, who had reappeared in the front window and now watched as I walked down the path to the driveway, past the trees and disappeared.