About 25 years ago, I lived in a rundown apartment building built in the early 1900s. It had back windows that faced a retaining wall only 18 inches away. Because they faced a wall, many people didn't bother to put curtains up in their living areas. Including me.
One evening, I had been doing Jane Fonda exercises [Full disclosure: Yes, I am that old.] I heard sounds outside, but thought it was one of the racoons that lived on the hillside. After I finished, I got in the shower. The bathroom door was so warped it didn't even close all the way, let alone lock.
In the shower, I heard the sound of wood squealing. My kitchen window was being forced open. I froze. I tried to tell myself I was imagining it. I turned off the water. I could hear footsteps in my apartment.
And I was naked and staring at my slightly ajar bathroom door.
I yanked on my leotard [Full disclosure: see full disclosure above] and walked out into the dark hallway. The whole apartment was dark except for the light in the bathroom behind me. The kitchen was ahead of me and on my right.
I could hear someone breathing.
I said, "Who's in my apartment?"
No answer. Just the soft sound of breathing. I could tell it was a man.
And then I came to my senses and ran for the front door. I still remember the horror of thinking that any second, his hands would close on me and he would drag me back. I threw it open and ran out. I was afraid he would come after me, but I was more afraid to reach my hand back into the darkness and close the door.
I pounded on my neighbor's door. He was a law student, and answered the door wearing the smallest pair of black briefs imaginable. Meanwhile, I'm wearing a soaking wet leotard and nothing else.
The cops showed up and searched my apartment with guns drawn. The guy was gone, probably back the way he came. They asked me if anything was missing.
All that was were some dishtowels. I thought that was kind of funny (I was kind of giddy by this point), and started joking that maybe I should double check to be sure he hadn't taken my spatula or my salt shaker.
"Miss," one cop said, "he was going to tie you up with them."
And then it wasn't so funny.
I know I'm very lucky.