Something Is Missing

This blog post’s title could cover a wide array of potential topics in my life:

Structured exercise.

Work/life balance.

Vegetables.

But in this case, it’s personal belongings and transitively, a feeling of my personal security.

I began this post at the first of the year.

Too raw.  Set it aside.

I came back to it about six months ago.  Couldn’t finish it.  Too embarrassing.

But now that I’ve uttered the words, “I think I could be open to dating again”, I feel like – at least therapeutically – I need to wrap up some of my old dating and relationship posts.

Since I’m on vacation, I’m trying to trick myself into writing more and wrapping up those dating drafts by also finishing up old vacation stories.  Like…hiding the hard stuff in between some fun memories.

There’s cumulatively eight drafts in this mix…only two of them are vacation stories. Three if you add in a ninth draft, but that’s a guest post I set aside for The Fox to share his Cuba adventure from last year.  

That’s 1/3 fun and 2/3 dating-trauma-drama.  That sounds like my life.

But nine is too many for a vacation week.

The Silver Fox is about to set off for a month-long Spain adventure…maybe his return could be my more realistic deadline.

Maybe I could just delete a bunch of drafts about painful stuff that I can sometimes make funny but am clearly telling myself on a subconscious level that I don’t want to process.

Except

My most read posts are my romantic misadventures.  You people are quite an unsavory lot, aren’t you?

How could I say no to that level of depravity?

So, here it is.  The worst, first. 

I’m just gonna skim through it and make sure it’s quasi-intelligible and post it.

Do you see that?

Right there, between my tool storage and the TV antenna The Silver Fox gave me to give to my parents to help get them off cable.

Yeah, on the shelf over my under-utilized spice rack and my cat treats.

Pay no attention to the stacks of Mac & Cheese.

There’s something missing.

And that freaks me out.

Not because I can’t recall exactly what it was.

Not because it was something so germane to my daily life that I can’t go on without it.

Because it’s simply gone.

And I didn’t “gone” it.

Someone else did…and that someone didn’t have permission to be here.

So, an unnecessary recap:  I’m pissed and maybe also just a tad scared.

I’m not scared for my safety.  

I’m scared because this isn’t the first time this has happened.

This year, sure.  Maybe.  I’ve been ignoring it, hoping it would go away.  The last six months…definitely not so much.

I’m scared because whatever used to be here was of no value.  Not to me.  It just was.  But to the person who disappeared this item?  It is a symbol.  A middle finger to me.  An eye-level eye opener that this is still happening.

Oh, mom…stop reading at the beginning.  Sorry.  I was distracted and forgot to warn you.

But since we are talking about – or, to – MomDonna, you should probably know that the last time she and dad visited, she walked right up to my door, looked at me side eye over her shoulder and opened the door as if to suggest that I should not be leaving my door unlocked.

Well, sure.

Kinda.

I purposefully live in secure buildings.  For the security, sure.  But also by chance of living in cities and in condo buildings where the security is part of the amenities…because I like to leave my doors unlocked.

Sue me.

Or – in this case – fuck me over.

Early in December, my Earthquake Money went missing.  I didn’t notice right away.  I noticed after my landlord texted me on December 29th and told me that my rent hadn’t been deposited yet.  

This was a week after her text wishing me a Merry Christmas.  You’d think she would have known then.  But, hey

Ok, that struck me as odd.  I usually write out my rent check and then fail to succeed at a few opportunities to deposit it.

I am a procrastinator, after all.

So, when my landperson told me my rent check hadn’t been deposited, I had to confront my assumption that I had completed the transaction as normal.  I don’t actually retain any of that in my long-term memory.  Sure, I recall snippets of the interactions I have with bank personnel.

And Chipotle meals…Chipotle being one block away from my landperson’s financial institution.

My assumption that I completed the transaction lies in the absence of the check from my entry hall table.  That’s my checks-and-balances system.

Luckily, I save the deposit receipts.

December was conspicuously absent amongst the other 14 receipts from past deposits.

So, what happened?!?

Fuck if I know.

What I do know is that I have a drawer in my hallway console table where I keep my Earthquake Money and miscellaneous financial shit like my rent check.

Right there, under the tray where I keep my wallet, keys and the coffee can with loose change.

The drawer is a hidden drawer.  You have to know it’s actually there and then touch it right so that it swivels open.

All this, of course, points to something of an inside job.

My missing rent check could be the result of the obvious culprit of an inside job, who likes to greet me coming home from her perch atop the table.  But I pulled the table away from the wall – careful not to disturb the wine stored beneath it.

Sunglasses.

Wine corks.

Other, less favorite playthings of Myrtle’s.

An epic dust bunny.

Fortune cookie fortunes – speaking of unwritten blogs, this one doesn’t even have a draft!

No. Check.

The easy solution is to grab some of my earthquake money and rectify the situation with great immediacy.  The awkward reality is pictured above.  My secret stash drawer was giving me Old Mother Hubbard vibes.

I keep bundles of money in that drawer that I win when I gamble.  Last summer, in a fit of discipline, I imposed an embargo on the drawer:  money goes in, it doesn’t come out.  It was an attempt at moderation.  If I won when gambling, I put it in the drawer. $500 denominations were the buy-in for a “deposit”.  I’d accumulated several $500 bundles of $20 bills.  The $50s and $100 bills eventually collected into a $2000 bundle, the $500 bundles of the bigger bills were too insubstantial and would bunch up.

Terrible problem to have.

What was an actual terrible problem to have was being confronted by an empty drawer that should be full.

I sat down and thought about it.  I examined the real possibility that I’d broken my rule in a drunken moment and blacked it out.  I went to a couple of bartenders and asked if they’d recalled any particularly egregious moments of drunkenness over the past few months.

That was a cold moment.

But at least I was accountable enough to my behaviors to blame myself first.

One of these fantastically fun and patient people looked me square in the eye and said, “I’ve served you off and on for two decades.  If I thought you were doing yourself damage, I’d tell you myself.  This one’s on  me…you look like you need it.”

The second and third were on me, and the $20 tip I left him on my $12 tab was the least expensive therapy co-pay I’ve made.

Back home, I went to my original earthquake stash…a drawer in the kitchen that I’d used when I first moved into my condo.  It got too full of wraps, foils, baggies and back up chefs knives to be a viable storage spot, so I’d moved my stash.

Plus, back up chefs knives…another first-world problem.

But there was $700 and change in there.

Which was a help in paying my now-two-months of rent due.

Not much of a help in figuring out my pricier mystery.

I had to set aside my deer-hunter cap for the moment to solve my rent problem.

Back to the hall table.  I kept other important-yet-homeless things in there, including my e-trade debit card.  

This is the account I had loaded with $25,000 of the proceeds from my Seattle condo sale.  I’d been Day Trading with that money to subsidize my existence while failing to find a professional landing pad.  I’d been wire-transferring $5k/month for bills and living expenses and calling any month that I walked away from with more than a $25k balance a win.

Well, this was my “break glass” moment.  No time for a transfer, I was gonna need my debit card to cash advance two months of rent.

I think we all know how that ended up.

Social Security Card.

Fake $5000 poker chip.  If only.

Passport.

Another fortune cookie fortune.

My almost full punch card from a coffee shop I stopped going to after The Broken Poet.

My actual checkbook.

No debit card.

WTF?!?

I had been digging through the drawer on my knees and rocked back to rest on my heels as I processed what was going on.

I felt gut-punched.

I looked slowly to my left, toward my front door.

I got up and adjusted the lock so that it was locked from the outside.

Davey.

When we’d broken up the previous Fall, I’d gathered up his left-behind things, borrowed The Fox’s car – ironically, an Escape – and delivered them to the boy who’d ghosted me.  He wouldn’t come to his door, so I just left his stuff on the porch and left.  The only thing I’d asked of this guy was to return my spare entry door key.

Yeah.  That was too much of an ask.

However, I’d not given it much thought.  He lived way out in a part of town that I always think of as Shitville.  My neck of the woods was definitely out of his way.  When he’d visit, he’d come in for a few days at a time, having one of his housemates in what was basically a flop-house watch his cat…which was why I gave him my spare entrance key in the first place, so he could come and go while I was at work.

I had heard from a friend-quaintance that he’d recently met Davey.  Based on the context of the things he said – He’s sweet.  Lost, but trying to get his life together -and what I had gleaned of this acquaintance’s life choices that he’d met Davey at an AA meeting.

I never thought he’d steal from me.

Setting that aside, I set up a wire transfer, cancelled my debit card and told my landperson she’d have her January and December rent in a week.

She was…not happy.

I wracked my brain over the next week or two about what to do.

I also locked myself out twice.

All of the phantom noises and clicks that I’d heard over the past six months came randomly back to me over the ensuing weeks.  Things I’d thought were doors clicking shut or neighbors in my basically uninhabited floor and written off as the sounds of a building settling became sinister scenarios.

The times I’d woken up to what I thought were doors closing late at night were what I believe started my late night sleepwalking patrols from earlier this year.  It certainly explained the episode where I’d woken up to the pile of light furnishings and decor in front of my door.

I am Xtopher’s complete loss of control.

My e-trade account had been hit pretty hard.

$500 withdrawals anywhere from a couple times a month to a few times a week over the last 90 days.  There were a few times where withdrawals had been thwarted by insufficient funds when I’d made a trade.  

Unfortunately, I wasn’t that involved in trading after going back to work the prior October.  I’d lost sight of a couple of bottom bounces – not the good type, Diezel – and dropped about $15k on trades in November and December.

Good thing I had a paycheck to look forward to…but I know enough now to not look forward to existing on that paycheck.  Thank gawd for my parental benefactors, otherwise I’d have drowned by now.

You see, my final response was an overreaction.  Absolutely.  But I now own an annuity.

After getting a new debit card and filing a fraud report with e-trade, I steered desperately into my financial situation to stop the spin.

My trading account has slightly less protection than a typical bank account.

Their fraud department was able to get shit quality ATM pictures of what looked to be Davey in a hoodie, a cracky looking twink (so much for AA), and a transvestite that wasn’t quite pulling it off.

I thought I knew who these people were.  Davey had talked about movie nights at his flop-house with a crew I imagined would present similarly.

I was offered the opportunity to file a police report, which could lead to some restitution if anyone was arrested.

Ultimately, I screwed myself over by storing my debit card in the envelope my PIN was mailed to me in.  That’s a no-no, but I knew I would never remember the PIN if I needed it.  Not that I planned to need it.  On top of that, my sense of accountability had me reluctant to move forward with any shadows of doubt remaining about who I suspected.

I began hanging out at one of the bars that I knew Davey’s transvestite housemate frequented.  Doing a little Kojak-action at What is arguably a bar in a three-way tie for Worst Gay Bar In Portland.

After a few possible connections with her, going to the bathroom to compare the ATM picture while she smoked, I was uncertain.

Fuuuuck.

As my deadline for filing a police report approached, I gave it one last chance.  I went out in search of a few times with mixed results.

Just missed her.

She’s visiting her kids this week.

And then, paydirt.

She has the kind of voice that precedes her like the cloud of drugstore perfume and stale cigarette smoke that follows her…I heard her coming.  An unexpected encounter at Embers, where she’d been 86ed by the same bartender that told me back in December that he had my liver’s back.  I was peeking over the taps at the bar while the bartender confronted her at the door.  I guess I wasn’t the only one attenuated to her voice.

As I’m watching, a third unseen voice breaks free moments before scootching through the door and heading for the bathrooms.

Davey.

So much for AA.

I turned my back to the door, hunched my shoulders and sipped my beer until it was done.

Then I stood up, squared my shoulders and walked out of the bar, thinking, “Fuck it.  I’m done lying down with dogs.”

Every meager paycheck since then, every time my parents have asked if I had “walking around money” since then has been a reminder that I can’t be vulnerable like that in today’s world.

I may have The World’s Most Dangerous Cat living with me, but I don’t have to expose myself to the Daveys of the world that even she can’t defend me against.

And sometimes, just as extra punishment to myself, I would tell my parents that I was fine…and that reminded me that I am fine.  That realization helped me to be more honest with myself, my parents, my best friend and, now, his best friend…the internet.

I’ve gotten myself square, emotionally.  Now it’s time to get myself righted financially, and that means living off my paycheck while still saving for my future…and also not punishing my future self by depriving myself of a potential boyfriend.

So, I’m open to the possibility of dating again.

Plus, my building replaced the entry door, that’s obviously a sign.

Something Is Missing

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