3 minute read

The Search

by Cathy Allie

I am going to start logging the hours I spend searching for things I have lost. There is a good chance I will lose the log and also have to search for it, but a morbid curiosity makes me want to know just how much time I have rummaged through drawers, retraced my steps, sorted through stacks, scoured memories, and finally mourned the losses.

Most of the misplaced items are things that should be somewhere logical, where I should have put them, when I should have been tidying up. A cherished sorority sister’s address is floating around my house right now, not tucked neatly in my fastidiously kept address book.

I will find it weeks from now, perhaps used as a book mark or nestled in with some recipes or coupons I thought I needed clipped out. By then I will have lost the card I intended to send her.

Other lost items are things I use infrequently, so I have determined the perfect place for them so that the next time I use them, I can find them readily. Except that they are not ever in the place where I would have put them.

I am not above blaming the ones who live with me. “Did you move the pineapple corer?” I say. “It is not in the utensil cabinet.” Most of the time they don’t even justify the question with a response. Neither of them have never cut a pineapple, nor would they have the foggiest notion how.

My favorite phrase to mutter when I can’t quite put my hands on a lost something is, “I swear it was just right here!”. My least favorite phrase to hear in response to not being able to find something is, “Well, where is the last place you had it?”

My highest percentage of losses are receipts. Thankfully, many of them are now emailed or texted to me, and the snowy white pile of paper is lessening. I heard someone complaining about all the information they ask you for when you make a purchase now, but not me.

“Can I have your phone number? Can I send you an email receipt? Can you share your first born’s eating habits? Can you tell me what cabinet you are most likely to hurriedly stick things into when company is coming so I can later help you find lost items?” Yes, yes, yes, yes. Some of the things I have misplaced are names and dates and faces. Having taught school for many years, I interacted with lots and lots and lots of students and their families. For many years, I would see a familiar face at the movies or the grocery store and in a hot minute the student’s name, and often the names of siblings or where dad worked all came back to me.

As of late, I will sometimes feel someone smiling at me, or see someone waving, and I know I should know him or her, but the old synapses just aren’t clicking as quickly, and I search for the name to match the face. It has made for some joyous reunions when I figure it out, and likewise, some embarrassing moments when I can’t.

“I was surprised to hear your brother had married Brooke with all the tiffs they had when they were young,” I said recently, to a handsome young man who had embraced me at a store. “It was actually me that married Brooke,” he said. “We just celebrated our anniversary with our three kids by taking a cruise.” Sometimes it is okay not to remember who is who.

Other things I have lost and still search for once in a while are a little bit more metaphorical—a sense of wonder, a sense of adventure, and my youth to name a few.

I have a friend who will be riding with me in the car and will say things like, “I wonder how they got that steeple up on that church?” or “I wonder how many chicken nuggets that place serves a day?” I turn the radio up a little louder so she cannot hear me say I couldn’t care any less.

My husband’s sense of adventure is still relatively settled in place, as evidenced by his recent Google search. He seriously said to me the other day that he had been looking for hiking trails in or near Mount Rushmore for us. He is a prankster of sorts, so I laughed and asked for the punchline, only to find out he really had been looking.

I have longevity on my side of the house, so my only logical thought is that he intends to take me on a hike, where I will die from exertion, and he will inherit… all our debt, I suppose.

“Where is your sense of adventure?” he says. I just tried a different menu item at our favorite Mexican food joint last week, I think, but down deep, I know I have lost that sense of adventure.

I only need the mirror to remind me that I have lost my youth, replaced by a wizened old gal who should have known on a recent outing with girlfriends it wasn’t smart to dance until late into the night, much less have a hearty wee hours of the morning greasy spoon breakfast after our night out.

Some people and many hymns talk about reuniting with family and friends in Heaven, and I am down for that for sure (just hoping I am having a good hair week when my call comes).

But how cool would it be if you could also just walk up to a sort of oldfashioned library card catalog and see all your lost items, neatly arranged via the Dewey Decimal system, and crossreferenced just for good measure. Lost Candle Holders: see also Holiday Décor, Mostly Never Used, Items, and Fancy Stuff. Wouldn’t it be delightful?

Excuse me now. I have to search for the email address to send this column. Can’t seem to find it, but it seems like it was just right here.