February 11, 2018

My Big Losing Streak

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I’ve just come through a spate of losing things. At least I hope I’ve come through it because it’s been disorienting. I have always had a sharp memory and bloodhound’s talent for finding things, particularly if those things have sugar in them.

The first casualty was a music book. It’s a collection of songs, many of them introduced to me by students, that I have come to love. “Along the Road” (Anna D), “Home” (Eileen), “Why They Call it Falling (Deborah), “Lay Down Your Head” (Jennie), “Jubilee” (Can’t Remember). I have “Desperado” written out in two different keys and “Dimming of the Day” in three. Twenty-one songs, at last count, in a book I bound on a Comb-bind. It has a black plastic spine, which was what I was looking for the day I couldn’t find it.

Another of my admirable qualities besides my memory and ability to suss out sugar is that I always return things to the same place. There’s a place for my comb-bound book of favorite songs and when I’m not using it, it’s always there. In the second drawer of a file cabinet of music under Popular. When I couldn’t find it one day, I kept going back to the second drawer of the file cabinet, relentlessly looking under Popular. It didn’t materialize. I looked through the entire filing cabinet of music. I pulled out every comb-bound book from my two book cases of music. Nothing.

I e-mailed my voice students to see if one of them had walked off with it by mistake. I wouldn’t have loaned it. Nothing.

I checked my files for individual students—what I call their dossiers—half a dozen times and finally found the music book filed backwards. I couldn’t see the spiral binding. The book was where it shouldn’t have been because I have the admirable if tedious quality of returning things to their allotted place.

I blame the cat.

Next was the Case of the Missing Keys: My neighbor Bill has been gone a lot in the past several months. He went for one of his impossibly outdoorsy, athletic trips in November and I tended to his cat, Suli. On the day he came home, I couldn’t find his house key, the one I have safely kept and guarded for five years. I had already served and abased myself before the cat so there was no immediate urgency with the keys.

Before Bill went to Tasmania at Christmas to visit his daughter, he made me a new key. I put it on a bright red key chain and managed to hold onto it. Two and a half weeks ago he went to Tanzania. (Try to keep up.) A week into this trip, I lost the bright red key chain which was holding not only the house key but the mailbox key and I had yet to pick up any of his mail.

I searched for the keys even as I imagined mail overflowing the box and Suli in the house clawing open Doritos. I turned my house and car upside down. I went through the garbage and the recycle. I turned over layers of mulch in the garden by my front door. Finally I texted Bill’s son Christoph in Walla Walla (Go, Whitman) to ask where the hidden key was. Once inside Bill’s house, I sorted through a kitchen drawer for small keys. I took seven of them down the alley to the mailbox and tried them until I got the mail box open.

I felt it my duty to replace the keys I had lost so I took the spare mail key and the hidden key to a lock and key place where I casually passed them across the counter and asked for duplicates even though the house key has DO NOT DUPLICATE on it. The locksmith asked me if it was my house key. I said yes. As I left with two new keys I mused that I am in a demographic that’s considered harmless, not to say invisible: a white woman and middle-aged with gray hair. I could get away with so much more than I do.

Shortly after I calmed down from the key freak-out, my college roommate Debi came for a few days. Her sojourn warrants a whole other blog post because having a house guest is the height of distraction for an introvert who lives alone. I might have expected to lose any number of things during her visit. Yet in the middle of an evening of whisky, reminiscences and laughter, I glimpsed my red key chain hanging with the laser pointer in the place where only the laser pointer should be. The keys, the keys, oh beautiful keys!

The down side being that I feel crazy. Why would I hang the keys where I have never put them before and not remember? Or even more damning, how could a week and a half go by without my entertaining the cats with the laser pointer? Bad human.

Debi is now home in Walla Walla. Bill has returned from his world travels. My music is where I can find it. The key on the red key chain is back in the key drawer. All’s right with the world for now.

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