Intruder Alert… a true story

Depending on where you live, and the general safety of that area, sleeping with a window open or with a door even slightly cracked could be considered normal, everyday behavior when you want a cool breeze or totally reckless behavior that could get you killed.

I don’t sleep well. When I was very little, maybe 4 or 5, I rolled right out of bed one night crashing on to the floor face first into my dresser, popping my lower lip open. At the hospital my parents were interrogated for child abuse while I got a couple of stitches. They were not the cause of this injury. Moms feelings over even being asked would never heal.

Growing up I had reoccurring nightmares and often walked in my sleep. More than once I woke up outside, confused and scared. My parents blamed the heat and my daily overactivity. The solution was to put a chain high up on the front door. There’s nothing like knowing the safety chain on the front door is for you, a little girl, and not because the family is worried about a bad guy breaking in. Considering my entire adult working life has been fueled by coffee and sugar, driven by an over active, artistic and now menopausal brain, I blame everything and anything on why I don’t sleep more than 4/5 hours a night. It’s just me.

We live in a small house built in the 1940’s up on a hill in Gold Canyon Arizona. If you are not familiar with this part of the United States or any desert, the desert you might immediately picture could be a barren sand dune or you could picture something sparkling and visually out of control like Las Vegas. “Desert” is not a specific enough term, it simply describes a climate really. Out here in Gold Canyon we are tucked up next to the Superstition Mountain. It is quiet with an abundant wildlife population including deer, coyote, bobcat and even Mountain Lions. It is truly a beautiful area with large expensive homes and golf courses that dot the area giving the animals mini oasis to find shelter and water. It is hot and dry here most of the time. The summer high heat daily hits triple digits and stays there for months at a time with overnight lows only dropping back to the high 80’s or low 90’s. Air conditioning is a luxury/necessity with a monthly bill that can also cause nightmares with the worst being “what if the air-conditioner unit breaks and we have to replace it?” I wake up screaming from that one.

Most of my nights are filled with me flipping my pillow over and over to find the cold spots. I go from kicking off all the covers believing I’m about to spontaneously combust to being frozen and rolled up in them like a swaddled new born. I usually give up around the magic hour of 3am and head out to the couch. I have no idea how my husband sleeps near me. I credit his Marine Corp boot camp experience as his pre training for me, not war.

My recent creative solution to the intense over heating is using an old window screen jammed into the tracks of the sliding door at night when I’m desperate to cool off. This type of random creativity has been employed because our house is old and has its share of idiosyncrasies. Some windows are permanently sealed shut with only a few having screens. We have fans and air conditioning going almost 24/7 but again, because the house is old and it’s layout is odd, the air doesn’t circulate like you want it to. My main objective with the screen, it seems now looking back in hindsight, was only to prevent something lower to the ground, like a rattlesnake, from slithering in. Looking back at this strategy it is glaringly apparent, I discounted anything bigger or smarter lurking in the night from easily coming in.

When you are sleep deprived for any length of time, your rational thought takes a hit. After months, if not years of worsening sleep habits, all I care about is getting some sleep. Any sleep. Napping daily is mandatory. Being sleep deprived makes me grouchy and irritable and confused. It is this state of mind that I developed my dangerous, now nightly pattern of, as soon as my body over heats, sleep walking the two steps over to the sliding door and popping in the half screen, letting the cooler night air blow in, then flopping back into bed to get hopefully another hour of sleep. My husband, sound asleep next to me, blissfully unaware I have yet again stripped him of any of the basic protection he put into place before laying down for the night. The closed, locked door he fell asleep with is now wide open with only a tiny, flimsy, old screen as a barrier and he has no idea. For that alone I should be locked up.

A few nights ago the inevitable happened.

Deep asleep for one of those brief pockets of time where I am actually getting some rest, I am startled awake by the sound of something hitting the screen in the open sliding door… hard! As if it had not seen the screen at all and bounced off it! The metal vibrated and rattled the entire sliding glass door.

I have horrible eye sight and wear either contacts or glasses for all things. I keep my glasses on the nightstand next to my bed alone with a glass of water. It is this nightstand and only this nightstand that now acts as any barrier between me and the open sliding door while I sleep. As I retell this story I am embarrassed repeatedly by what is so so obvious and such dumb behavior. I again blame lack of sleep for total lapse of judgment. Have pity on this tired soul.

Vision, a total blur in the dark, roughly three or four feet from my sleep deprived face, a large something just hit the screen for the second time as if it is trying to see what it just ran into! My adrenaline and senses kick into overtime. I pop up ready to face off with this home invader unarmed, barely dressed and virtually blind. I hear a deep grunt. For a half a second, my body freezes in panic mode, locking me, paralyzed next to the nightstand. My brain knows what is on the other side of the tiny screen is not a good thing and it is having trouble formulating what to do next. There has been no emergency plan put in place for an event such as this.

Instinctively “HEY!” flies out of mouth as my weapon of choice.

I am now awake enough to know I am facing off with a good sized Javelina (Collared Peccary) who, for whatever reason, has decided to wander around the patio and take a closer look into our house! It’s sensitive nose must have hit the screen initially, then, with the stubbornness and curiosity of a wild animal, pushed again until I popped up startling it in the process.

Now for a moment, let’s imagine this wild animal having succeeded the first time it pushed its snout against that screen! It could have literally been inside our small, dark bedroom with us trying to get it back outside!

As luck would have it, “HEY!” is the magic word to yell to make a Javelina turn and sort of run off! It shuffled over to a large tree to regroup. It did not simply run away. The night air now thick with that energy that comes from real fear, we both simply stood there in the dark, only a few feet apart from each other, trying to figure out what just happened.

My husband slept through the entire event which, of course the next morning, made me question my sanity, especially when the trail cameras didn’t have any confirming video! In my defense, only one camera could have picked it up depending on the route the Javelina took.

For now I am going to try sleeping on the couch where the air conditioner can blow directly at me, I’ll have two dogs sleeping on either side of Momma ready to bark at outside noises and hope my husband gets a better, less dramatic, nights sleep.

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