Now. There’s been some space. My fear has subsided, my guilt is transformed into anger and that anger dissipated into disappointment.
A man followed me into my apartment vestibule early Sunday morning. The front door had been broken and hadn’t been locking properly for months. It works now, but that makes no difference because you can’t change the future. He could have done so much worse than grab me, take my phone and all of my money. Only about $120 dollars. Coming home from a night out, he’s lucky I even had that.
I called the police from an old cell phone. This all sounds so collected now, but at the time, I almost didn’t know what was going on. The 911 operator stayed on the phone with me until I was with the police. They then put me in the back of the squad car, still in my party dress and heels, clutching this busted cell phone with out of date of numbers and my house keys.
A flock of police had descended onto my neighborhood detaining every young looking black man that was out on the street at sometime between 3:30am and 4am. The drove me around and had me look at the men that they had detained. None of them were the man that had robbed me. It was after the second man, that I finally started crying in the back of the car.
They put me in another car, unmarked, and we went around and looked a two or three more men. Still none of them were the man. I felt so guilty that these men had done nothing wrong, other than be the wrong color out on the street at the wrong time. I felt guilty and responsible and horrified and terrified.
At the precinct on Elizabeth street, one of the oldest in the city, I sat in a dingy room with a man filing reports and intermittently falling asleep with loud snores waiting to fill out the police report. I called every number that might be viable in my phone, but no one picked up. I talked to two cops and then a detective. I looked at mug shots until my head was aching, the sun was coming up and the faces all looked the same.
They brought me home and let me stand on the side walk, shivering in that stupid dress while the evidence technician took finger prints. I did not need to be standing there for that. I went upstairs finally to make some eggs with spinach. I fell into an uneasy sleep that only lasted about 3 hours. It was riddled with random dreams, irrationalities and anxieties. I was lucky to have a friend to stay with me that night. A presence that was just so welcome and such a distraction. It was so important.
The next day, Manhattan looked so much better from the outside looking at her from Liberty Island.