Sunday, November 22, 2009

Personal Space

One of my first posts was about two guys robbing my roommate Marge and me in our apartment. They rolled us up in carpets before they left.

It’s hard to explain how important your personal space is and how violated you can feel. I have several friends who have been raped and I can’t bring myself to imagine how unnerving that must be.

Sanity is a construct that has to be constantly reinforced. Society is an illusion based on trust. We tend to gather in our tribes for security. Sometimes it’s us against them.

When I was living in the West End as a young man I had to move three times because Washing University and Barnes Hospital kept expanding. I’ll be writing about eminent domain soon.

I was forced to leave the apartment where Marge and I were robbed. By then I was living with my girlfriend Jill. We found a nice little apartment on Parkview owned by a WWII refugee named Effie. She told us Effie meant grandma in Polish. She had a secret life I’ll write about later.

Eventually Jill and I broke up and I found myself alone in the apartment. The apartment began to fall apart as my life became more and more disorganized. The place looked like someone was always in the process of moving in.

During this time I got back together with my old girlfriend Lora.

Anyone who knows me knows how lightly I sleep. I’m incredibly restless and have always suffered from insomnia.

After one such night Lora and I awoke to find we’d been robbed. The room right next to where we slept had been ransacked. My flute, alto saxophone, and twelve-string Alvarez Yari acoustic guitar were gone. These guys had balls. The door to our room was even slightly ajar.

Eventually my buddy (and bassist) Tracy moved in. We had a very active social life and spent a lot of time away from home.

One night we came home together to find our apartment wrecked. It reeked from a long neglected cat box and our stereo was gone. We looked at each other and had a really great laugh. We had long ago learned not to become too attached to worldly possessions. This was out of psychological necessity of course.

I have a little side story about the power of friendship to diffuse a bad situation.

I lived at that apartment in the 70s. We were very much aware of a potential nuclear event in those days. We never trusted those crazy politicians and even though we were in our early 20s we had already been cynical for quite some time. My buddy Dominic and I were listening to that very stereo (probably Captain Beefheart or Brian Eno) when a low constant rumble shook the apartment. Dominic and I looked at each other, convinced in our hearts that the “Big One” had just dropped. We smiled at each other like it was the last time. It turned out to be one of Missouri’s more famous earthquakes.

Years later, when I was married, my wife Kim and I were going to meet up with some folks at the Train Wreck Saloon in West Port on St. Patrick’s Day. Just as we were about to enter the bar a friend stopped us to tell us our apartment in South St. Louis had been robbed. We rushed home to find our apartment torn apart. Why do people who break into other people’s homes find it necessary to be so destructive?

I had a huge collection of CDs. They filled pillow cases with them. Most of them were obscure imports I’ve never been able to replace and I’m sure they couldn’t sell.

We came home a month later to find the apartment had been broken into a second time. This was too much for Kim and we ended up living in her folks’ basement for a month. This was total Hell for me. Kim, our baby Dylan and I slept on a mattress on the floor.

Our landlord at the apartment was Colorful Tom, one of my skydiving buddies. During the month we were gone he installed an alarm system to tempt us back. After promising to get a dog, Kim acquiesced. We came back to find a big brass knocker on the door that announced The Udells.

The night Tom and I were putting the finishing touches on the alarm system we accidentally triggered some kind of panic button. It must have been at least 10 cops that burst through the door. They threw us up against the wall. Tom had long hair then and I must have been disheveled enough that we looked like burglars.

It occurs to me that I’ve been robbed so many times I don’t remember them all. I may have to update from time to time. The point is we all have personal space that needs to be respected.

Dave with uke circa apartment with Marge, Lora circa Parkview, Kim and Wounded Knee Dave circa Tom’s apartment, Dylan practicing celesta circa Tom’s apartment.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried magnesium 400 mg or so, and possibly calcium for your insomnia? Take before bed.

Anonymous said...

having been robbed too many times and in too many ways to count i understand your feelings about space invasion.i had a car stolen once when i lived in the county but came to the city for band practice. when i finally got it back(after i got a notice that it had been towed for too many tickets sitting at Grand and Juniata) it felt so violated to me that i sold it to the guy that towed it to my house for $800. there really isn't much you can do but try not to be too attached to material things; unfortunately i became so unattached that i have nothing left that has sentimantal value to me older than 6 years ago. there is something to be said for attachment to material things, if they have true meaning to your life. Geo

Tony Patti said...

I've been much luckier than you about being robbed. The only time I was ever robbed they took all of your PA gear from the apartment where Linda and I lived, and they left my stuff behind. I've been unlucky in other ways, though.

Doggie said...

Yeah, that was the famous incident when I was out of town. I told Dominic not to take my guitar. He did, they got it. I've learned not to hang onto things to hard.

...Sharon said...

My life as a victim...
Home break in/robberies: 3
Robbed at gunpoint: 1
Punched/Assaulted: 5
Physically hit by car: 1
Car Stolen: 2
Lied to: neverending

Anonymous said...

Did I ever fully apologies for taking your guitar there? Evidently not. Please consider this post a formal, public, sincere, heart-felt and thorough expression of remorse for the action of that day. I know how much you loved that guitar- I loved it as well. Even after decades of dealing with the consequences of this act I still haven't been able to figure out the "why" of it. If that happens I will let you know- just to bring some sense of closure to it.

For now let's just think that the travails that guitar must have gone through led it safely past the pawn shops and junkies to an owner that can and does truly, deeply appreciate the gem that he or she holds in his/her hands.


Doggie said...

Dominic you've apologized several times. I know it stings every time I bring it up. I'm in no way angry with you. I actually forgot until Tony brought it up. The post reminded me of several robberies I didn't mention. Sharon points out how much we can endure.

Valerie Pennington said...

I set off the alarm accidentally in that same apartment right after Brian moved in, but only 2 cops showed up.
Ironically, we had just finished a neighborhood watch meeting and they were the featured speakers.
We all had a good laugh.

Then they shot me.