This week I managed to lose the clicker for the stereo and one of four stainless steel cat dishes. At some point each day, the need to recover these items nips at me until I give in, tossing my to-do list aside. Crazy thoughts go through my head as I fling couch cushions and check drawers and the refrigerator. (Yes, the refrigerator.) Who stole the clicker? Did I throw away the kitty dish? Did Ron take the clicker? Why would he do that? Oh my God, I’m losing my mind! Before full-blown panic sets in, something in need of my attention distracts me, and I’m off to grade papers, defrost the freezer, or water trees.
I didn’t lose a thing as a kid. It was an adult malady that I never quite understood. I’d roll my eyes when my mom asked if I’d seen her keys or her purse. A bunch of us moaned when my tenth grade English teacher searched her desk for her glasses, which happened often. A friend nearly died of embarrassment when her mom thought she lost her car in the Kohl’s parking lot only to learn it had been stolen while she shopped the post-Christmas 50% Off Sale. No, this losing thing didn’t start until I had a house and responsibilities of my own. And it’s gotten worse over time. Sometimes I don’t even know I’ve lost something until it shows up. I found a can of soup in my truck that by my estimation had been lodged under the front seat for three months. Last week I found a sweater I forgot I had bought.
Some things are meant to stay lost: a cause, our virginity, our marbles. But most things, like the clicker and the cat dish, are meant to be found. I like to know where my things are. It gives order to my life and provides a sense of stability. I may be wearing mismatched socks, but if I know the book I’m reading is on my nightstand, I’m okay.
It seems the losing things conundrum is tied to multitasking and our obsession with time. I shove the car keys in my pocket as I grab a bag of groceries and a thirty pound box of cat litter from the bed of the truck then rush inside to make dinner because it’s six-fifteen and at seven I have a phone conference with a student. The next day I go for my keys. and they’re not in my purse or on the counter. My first thought? Who stole my keys?
Like prayers or a glass of wine, the lost clicker and cat dish are like talismans sent from a sacred place to remind me to slow down.