Last Thursday, Parker and I were working in the studio. Jeremy had just left town for a project he's been working on with a group of Dutch artists. Things were going fine. I was sewing, Parker was doing homework....everything was good.
As many of you know, we are renovating the building the studio is located in. When we moved in, the building was in need of repair due to some water damage. We had to replace the floors, repair some walls, paint, etc...but, the bigger issue was in the basement. The basement is a stone foundation which had been insulated with a vapor barrier, dry-walled and fitted with lovely drop ceilings (why do people do this!!!). Several months before we moved in, a pipe burst on the main floor, ran for several days, flooded the main floor and the basement - nothing was really done to take care of the damage that had been done and the water sat there for months. This meant the basement molded - in a way I have never ever seen before. It was covered, floor to ceiling in black mold...literally, the walls were black, the floors were black...it was horrible. To make things worse - the only usable bathroom was in the basement. So, one of the first things we did was seal off the basement from the first floor so we could safely work in there (we have since gutted the whole basement). The air quality was so bad - everyday we went home with headaches and Jeremy developed some respiratory issues. To remedy the situation, Jeremy tore out the basement bathroom, salvaged the sink and toilet and replaced the bathroom in the second floor apartment (which will soon be turned into an office). In order to use this bathroom, we go outside, up the back stairs and into the second floor. The back stairs are just old deck type stairs that raise up above a dead end alleyway type space between our building and the building next door. This space is pretty big and very dark...it's about 30 feet deep, 5 feet wide and 12 feet high. We have been talking about closing it off and turning it into outside storage since we moved in. There have just been so many other things that needed to take precedence that we never got around to it.
So, last Thursday, while Parker and I were at the studio, she went up to the bathroom, returned and went back to homework. About 30 minutes later, I did the same. Only, when I opened the back door to go upstairs, I walked into a police raid on our backyard. I was met by about 10 police officers who had just arrested one man. (Parker witnessed all of this) It turns out, this one guy mugged someone about an hour earlier right up the block from our building and had been hiding under our back stairs for that whole time - during the same period of time that Parker had gone outside and upstairs by herself. I spent about 15 minutes with the police trying to get the details about what had happened only to find out this guy has been coming to that space under our stairs to get high on a regular basis (I'm pretty certain he's not smoking pot). I have been completely trapped with thoughts of "what could have happened" for the last three days. While, thankfully, neither of us were physically hurt, our sense of security has been completely compromised. Parker especially.
Jeremy came home early and we tried to asses what we could do to make our building and back yard a place that would not be conducive to intruders - for starters, closing off the dark alley and following through to a more thorough security system. It's all very unsettling. In many ways I feel like it was a wake up call for us to be more careful. The reality is, the neighborhood of our studio is in the city and while I do not think it is dangerous...we can't be naive... things do happen and we must take precautions to protect our business and family. We can find solutions to this, but the harder part is working through an invasion of personal safety with an 11 year old. She has been like velcro to me since this happened. Afraid to go to bed at night, scared at the slightest noise...I'm not sure what to do except show her we are taking preventative measures. But the reality is, she is only 11 and her 11 year old imagination has taken over...she does not feel safe. This is one of those moments when I wish there were a magic parenting wand that would just make everything better. If you know where I can find one...let me know. In the meantime, we're doing our best to try and work through things.