When her building in New York City was robbed, her room was miraculously skipped.
- Posted on Mar 24, 2020
Bang! bang! bang! I shot up in bed that mid-December morning in 1992. Someone was pounding on the door of my rented room at New Dramatists, an organization for playwrights in New York City. My hair a mess, I grabbed my robe and ran to the door. I threw it open to find Peter, the office manager, standing in the doorway. His face was as white as a sheet.
“Kimberly, are you okay?” he asked, visibly shaken.
“Yes, I’m fine! Why?”
“The building was robbed last night. You were the only person in here. Three floors have been ransacked. Most of the bedrooms were broken into. The artwork is gone. Even the typewriters were taken.”
“It’s a good thing my door was locked!” I said.
“All the other doors were locked too,” Peter said. “But that didn’t stop whoever it was that broke in. I’m just glad you’re all right.”
My heart was pounding as Peter left to assess the damage downstairs. I closed the door. Who knows what might’ve happened if the robber had come into my room and found me? I must have already been asleep when the robbery took place. With my light out, there was nothing to tip anyone off that the room was occupied. So how did my room alone get overlooked?
Until now, I’d been absolutely certain that I was meant to be in New York. As an aspiring playwright, I’d always dreamed of moving here. Everything seemed to fall right into place after I graduated from college in North Carolina the previous spring. A former professor had offered me her Manhattan apartment at an actually affordable rate. Her only condition was that I find another place to stay when she came back to the city during academic breaks. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
I hit the ground running. I loved the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, so different from life in the South, where I’d grown up. In the short time I’d been here, I was making great connections and already involved in some exciting creative projects. I’d even enrolled in a class here at New Dramatists, where I often attended play readings.
With the holidays approaching, I’d mentioned to Peter that I needed a room for the two weeks between my former professor’s arrival for winter break and my departure home for the holidays. I was delighted when he told me they rented out these top-floor rooms to visiting playwrights and that none of them would be occupied for the couple weeks I needed. My stay came with a complimentary invite to the New Dramatists’ annual holiday party, thrown in a stately room downstairs.
Just the night before, I’d felt so at home in this exciting city, attending a gathering where I got to celebrate with new friends and rub shoulders with some of the best playwrights in the country. Afterward I’d retired to my room happy and gone to sleep, holiday songs still drifting through my head.
But this morning, I felt entirely different: suddenly small and alone. The robbery had shaken me to my core, making me second-guess my decision to move here.
Still upset, I got dressed and headed downstairs to the office to see if there was anything I could do to help out. Peter pointed to the answering machine.
“I’ve just listened to more than a dozen frantic messages from your mother,” he said. “All of them were left between midnight and eight o’clock this morning.”
I’d given my mom the New Dramatists office number to reach me in case of a family emergency. But I didn’t understand why she’d call in the middle of the night or leave so many messages.
“What did she want?” I asked.
Peter shook his head as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was about to say. “She was begging for someone to pick up the phone because you were in danger.”
Peter was just about to hit the PLAY button on the answering machine when the phone rang. He answered it, then handed me the receiver. “It’s your mom.”
“Please just tell me you’re okay,” she said in a trembling voice. I assured her I was fine, then told her what had happened. “The robber skipped my room out of all the rooms in the building! But, Mom, how did you know I wasn’t safe?”
There was a silence on the other end of the line, and then Mom said, “I woke up at midnight, sure you were in terrible danger, Kimberly. I spent all night on my knees, praying for God to protect you.”
I thanked her, my eyes filling with tears. Mom’s intuition. Her prayers. The robbers miraculously skipping my room. Everything that had come together to keep me safe. I knew I was right where I needed to be. And I wasn’t alone. Someone was looking out for me.
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