A Taste of Reality

West Hampstead, London

Today got a bit more real than I had originally expected.

To start things off, I had a great time on my whole trip. This past month has been amazing. I will be sorting through my photos once I get home and I will detail more about it when I am not so tired.

However, this is about a wake up call that I received today. The day started out well, with 10 hours of restful sleep which is a welcome relief after the incredible heat of the past three weeks. My aunt had to work, and my uncle and I headed downtown to meet a couple of friends for lunch and some drinks. It was a lovely afternoon, and we returned to the house before my aunt did and started to prepare dinner. My aunt arrived home, having had a tiring day, and just wanted to get out of the house and head up to the local pub for a drink before dinner. So we did, as I have done with them on many occasions, and I’m sure they do quite often as well. We weren’t there long and we headed home to finish up with dinner preparations because we were hungry.

It was raining a bit and my uncle needed to use the facilities, so he hustled on ahead of me and my aunt. When we got into the flat he was coming from down the hall where the bathroom is and proceeded to continue with dinner. I noticed his laptop, which had been on the table in the kitchen was missing, and I first assumed he took it down to his bedroom or something to get it off the table. Then I went into the living room and saw that my computer was also missing. At this point I felt the first twinge of panic.

“Where is your laptop” I asked my uncle.

“It is right on the table here,” he started to reply as he turned around. “Where is it?“

“I don’t know but mine’s gone too,” the realization starting to consume me.

The next few minutes which followed seemed unreal as we noticed a few other missing items, and then, after checking the garden door in the kitchen, went to the master bedroom where a brick had been thrown through the bottom panel of a glass patio door. We had been burgled. And recently since we had only been gone in the order of a half hour and it seemed like there was some evidence that while care was taken the remove the power cords from the awkwardly placed outlets in both cases, the power cord for my laptop was in the kitchen. Moved, but not taken. The police were called, and we were told that someone would be over. We weren’t to touch anything.

My mind was racing, a nausea rising in my stomach – a feeling that all was lost. Almost like losing a friend, and while that might sound a bit cold, in reality, that isn’t far off for me. What files could be replaced by backups? Most. Which couldn’t? Some recent photos, who knows.

Also on the missing list, my Blackberry and my iPod shuffle. Unfortunate, but in the light of my laptop, insignificant. Finally, resolved to the loss, I decide I should call my parents. After three attempts, I got through and told the news to my dad. Literally as I was telling it, I heard a cry from the hallway: “It’s here!“

My aunt came running into the kitchen, she had found a bag with our stuff in it. I was still on the phone and my parents got to witness the commotion. I swear it was one of the most emotional times, I was shaking, as I had been before. As it would happen, not everything was in the bag, they still made off with my iPod and my phone.

So now I sit here in the aftermath, humbled by the idea of personal invasion and loss. Fortunately we scared them off, and they (or he or she) didn’t stick around to fight or attack. We were lucky. It can happen at any point, to any one. I thought I was jaded and cautious after my pick pocket incident in Madrid – this brings me to a whole new level. I’ll be fine, but I’ll be wary. And now my total is up to three stolen cell phones in three different European countries. One in each of the countries I studied in. I’m not so good with them I guess.