Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lost Things

They’d been on the ground in Atlanta for an hour when he realized he didn’t have his wallet. There was the mad rooting through their luggage, the dash down the long concourse, clear back to the plane they arrived on.  Amazingly the plane they had arrived from Seattle on was still on the ground. There was the scramble to locate a stewardess to accompany them on board, and then the long trudge down the aisle of an empty plane. Ever notice how a big a plane is when you are the last one on it?

There was slide into the window seat at aisle 31 A. The reaching into the seat pocket, which turned up…nothing. Argggg. Embarrassed apologies to the stewardess. Then, a final feel around of the crevice of his seat. And? Success! Wallet found! Nightmare avoided. This time.

We’re fifteen minutes out of SFW. I’m driving, while reliving my son’s nightmare scenario. What a pain to lose a wallet: The lost I.D.? Can’t fly home without it? The ruination of a hard fought for and much needed Florida vacation?

“Not the first time you’ve done that,” I said. “Next time, all you have to do when you get off a plane is feel around for your wallet.” Cut off your tongue, Mama. Shut your mouth. Who are you to talk? Haven’t you been there and done that? Oh yes, which is why when I board a plane I count the bags I’ve got, and count them again every so often, then count them again before I get off.

As a way of commiserating I confess how I a cell phone once noty ten minutes from boarding a flight. I still can’t figure out how I did that. What is the body count on lost cell phones? I wonder. Where do airports put them? You can’t reuse a lost cell phone after all.

His fiancee giggles. I hope she never loses that endearing little laugh, so I entertain her with another tale from my vast store of lost stuff experiences: This hunky old SUV I’m driving? I’m down to one set of very expensive keys. The set that’s lost was the one that was supposed to stay in the car. Plan was, we’d use door keys to get in and out and the ignition keys would perpetually stay in the vehicle.

My son laughs. His fiancée laughs. At least they are not like Big Brother, who lost his wallet yet again last week. What a pain. Getting the I.D. all over again. New debit card and all that.

I thought about my own recent loss of this sort. I’d lost an car! Lost it in the parking lot at Publix. My ultimate humiliation came when a couple of my friends spied me me trudging around behind a grocery cart with what must have been a disoriented bag lady type expression on my face. After three trips through the parking lot I finally found this bus of a thing (this wasn’t some kiddie car I’d lost), faced toward the store, way I always park it, except it was one lane over from the one I routinely park in. The one I hadn’t searched because it was too far over. What was I thinking?  What was I losing? My mind?

No, I refuse to believe that I am any more or less forgetful than I ever was. We lose things when our thoughts race through the ten things we should be doing right this minute instead of going to the grocery store. We have so much to lose all the time. Right now we are losing the senior generation in my family. Last year my mom. Then the letter arrived. The funeral CD and the program. We’ve lost my 104 year old aunt. I can still see my aunt’s serenely sweet face from when I was six and she drew my name in the family Christmas drawing and sent me a tea set the following March.

Yes, we lose track of time. We lose weight, if we are lucky and altitude if we are not.

The things we hate losing most: motivation, direction, interest, time.

And then there’s that one thing I pride myself on never losing: hope, which brings me to the end of this woeful tale. The lost keys from the SUV? Gone since the week we bought the car off a used car lot?

The morning after the nearly lost wallet fiasco, the keys to the SUV turned up. My husband dangled them from his fingers, then teased them away, pocketing them, when I reached out.

“Where did you find them?” I said.

“You never looked,” he sneered.

Oh, but I did. I combed the entire car for them, more than once. “Where were they?”

“In the crevice where you raise the back seat.” He pocketed this new treasure, the lost keys, claiming dominion over my car. “I’ll keep them, since you lose everything,”

I wanted to hoot but restrained myself. I’d lost the battle but not the war. My husband never loses anything. Except his tools. Has anyone seen a table saw? A square bottomed spade? The electric tester? A box of screws?