Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On finding some solace in being robbed

The past several weeks have been difficult, I won't lie. Certainly not the most trying time of my life by any means (thanks, ages 14 - 16, for providing that perspective), but no fun nonetheless. What's especially interesting is that things have been all about extremes: some really great stuff tempered by the really bad. So it goes.

For instance, as I mentioned before, recently I spent a long weekend in Seattle. I'd never been to the city before and was looking forward to exploring new territory and meeting new people. Officially I was there with my sister to perform our Twins act for something called Freakshow-A-Go-Go (aka FAGG), which was exciting on its own. Unofficially it was to be a chance to tromp around unfamiliar ground and get away from the increasingly depressing hunt for income back in Madison for a short while.

And Seattle was beautiful. It was rainy and cool almost the whole time we were there but I had expected as much, and even so it was still lovely. The rain there is different than what you typically get in Wisconsin. Instead of downpours, there would be short, light showers followed by intermittent drizzle - which sounds more dreary than it was, I assure you. Though I'd probably change my tune if I actually lived there. Still, we stayed with two excellent hostesses who took good care of us, hiked through some gorgeous city parks, gazed out over Puget Sound, and I also made a point to check out the I-5 Colonnade. A spectacular and very cool example of good urban planning, the Colonnade is an inner city dirt bike park that accommodates riders of all skill levels. And it's all underneath a massive freeway overpass, so it stays almost entirely dry year-round.

I took photos of all of this, of course. And I'd be posting them now if it weren't for the Bad Extreme that happened next.

The show was on Saturday at the Rainier Valley Cultural Arts Center, a little venue in the Columbia City section of town. We had to be there a bit earlier in the day for our tech call, and while we were running our act had left some of our bags downstairs in the dressing room. Mind you, the dressing room door was not visible from the street. And there were performers in it almost all day. Somehow, though - and perhaps I'm just the luckiest girl in the world - during the (maybe) 10 minutes during which everyone was watching two particularly talented acrobats do their tech run, some desperate soul managed to wander in off the street and steal my bag.

At first I thought I was just losing my mind and had misplaced the thing, but after another girl discovered that her phone and wallet had been taken from her purse, too, there was no denying that we'd been robbed.

All told, I lost both of my cameras, my wallet, and those wonderful, custom-molded earplugs that had been a very thoughtful birthday gift from my friends a couple years ago.

And this happened about two hours before the show was to begin. I chalked it up to a good lesson in taking "the show must go on!" to heart, called the police to file a report, and went about the business of putting on my costume and makeup and trying to focus on putting on a solid performance. Which I'm told we did. I had fun, anyway.

To the credit of the Seattle police, they sent an officer by in a fairly timely fashion to take our statements about what was surely a dime-a-dozen crime. I had to laugh, though, because the cop showed up during intermission and promptly found himself surrounded by dozens of performers in all manner of weird get-ups, including me looking like the photo at right and the other girl dressed as a cat (she being part of a group called Catittude with which I am now absolutely in love). I'm sure he's seen stranger things in his time as a cop, of course, but he took it all with good humor.

I don't expect to see any of my stuff ever again. At the time I tried to take some comfort in the notion that my renter's insurance might well cover a lot of it, but when I got home and saw that my deductible was $1,000 and the total worth of what was taken only about $900, that shred of comfort went out the window.

But in the midst of all that, I had to make up my mind to have a good time for the rest of my trip. What else was there? And I had some faith in humanity restored by how kind everyone was to me - including the surprise chunk of change that my fellow performers donated at the end of the night. Sure, I had no ID and only the cash given to me, all my vacation photos were gone, and I had to deal with the tedium of calling to cancel all of my cards and such.

But I wasn't hurt, and I was surrounded by good people, and there was still plenty of city to explore. And, ultimately, I got to go home to my beloved fella and city (turns out they will let you fly without ID - you just get treated to extra special security screening fun times).

Strangely, the whole thing left me feeling...lighter. It's hard to explain. I'm still frustrated as hell about losing my cameras and those completely awesome earplugs. They were, after all, things I use in my art and work. I still felt violated and helpless, which I hate. And yet I had/have this sense of lightness about the whole thing. Like it slapped me upside the head and cleared a few of the heavier cobwebs that had gathered there and focused my attention on more important things.

Getting robbed certainly didn't bring me any Buddha-like enlightenment about the impermanence of things - though it was definitely a lesson toward that end - but I have to think that it was a valuable experience. Even if that's all that I can get from it, it's not bad. And if it helps balance one extreme with another, I'm all for it.

(top photo by Chethan Shankar on Flickr)

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