No. I didn’t lose my cat. I don’t even have a cat, but while walking into the grocery store a few weeks ago, this sign struck me so much that I decided I needed a photo of it on my way out.
I hope the owners of the cat haven’t lost hope and better yet, have had their lost cat returned to them and forgot the small detail of removing the sign. It’s hard to lose things, especially things dear to you, and even worse when those things aren’t ever found. My brother-in-law’s philosophy on losing stuff is that when you find it, you’ll love it even more than before losing it. I’ve tested this theory, multiple times, and its valid. It also has you keeping just a little better track of those lost and now found items, partly because you love them even more now that they’ve been found.
So as I wandered through the grocery store where I saw this sign, I couldn’t get the “lost” part off my mind. I seem to be spending more and more time these days looking for lost things and although I know a very big part of this is simply that I’m not present and am doing more than one thing at a time. I suppose age is most likely a factor, then again, this behavior began when I started having kids, so age doesn’t get all of the credit. Distraction and multitasking are the perfect environment for stuff to get lost.
I do too many things at once, a holdover from a time when I had 3 kids under the age of 5. My Mom once found a full cup of coffee in my linen closet.
“Oh, hey, thanks, Mom! I was looking for that!”
No doubt I was talking on the phone, nursing a baby or putting towels away when the coffee went missing, most likely all three. Full cups of coffee are easy to replace. Treasures, not so much. I guess it only seems like it’s the treasures we lose because honestly, who cares about the other stuff, unless it’s something you don’t care all that much about but vitally need – car keys, driver’s licenses, the charger to your phone. It’s the good lost stuff that gets search energy and although much of it I know is probably lost forever, I still find myself randomly looking under the bed or through coat pockets, always with hope.
My Patagonia hat. The hat I actually bought in the El Calafate airport in Patagonia when I realized it was going to be colder than I had anticipated. It’s not a color I would have ever bought, but it fit and instantly became a favorite. I wore that hat for 4 years and then it was gone. I actually wore it to bed when I had a bout with the flu, not because my head was cold, but because it made me feel better. When I realized it was gone, I retraced my steps, not many as I was sick and only left the house once, but had no success. I ended up having to make up my own happy ending for the hat to give me the needed resolve. I took it off when I got into my car in the store parking lot and it fell out as I was shuffling bags of groceries. Someone who did not have a hat on that cold winter day found it and has been wearing it ever since. That story makes me happy, but I still miss my hat. I’m sure I could find another just as great, just as warm, just as wonderful Patagonia replacement hat, but honestly, I’ve not even looked. It wouldn’t have come from the gift shop at the airport in El Calafate, and that’s the part that makes me sad.
My ring. My silver ring with the Peruvian symbol of Mother Earth on its long rectangular front. Gone. And probably never to be found, but I can’t say that I have lost all hope on that one. It disappeared after I was at an out of town wedding and for years I insisted it was in the back seat of my son’s car (who drove to the wedding). He insisted it wasn’t. The car was sold last year and he insured me that he did a thorough check before letting go of it. I’m sure he did. I had been in his car several times since the ring went missing and every time I was in the back seat, he’d remind me that it wasn’t there after seeing me subtly digging my hand down between the seats. So with the car possibility out, my only other sliver of hope was attached to either my washing machine or the dryer, thinking that maybe I had left it in a jeans pocket when doing the laundry. I got my answer on the washing machine when I had to have it serviced and the serviceman told me he had found some things in my washing machines mechanism, which was the cause of the malfunction. I held my breath with anticipation. Four rusted pennies, a bobby pin, and a hunk of something gross that I actually dug through with a screw driver before it was disposed of, but sadly, no ring. Ironically, my now son-in-law was living in Cusco, Perú at the time and I gave serious thought to directing him to the very store where it was purchased to inquire about another one for me, but I didn’t know my ring size and it was starting to feel a bit like a wild goose chase. Besides, would a replacement really fill the bill? I’m not sure.
I’ve emptied drawers, moved furniture, gone deep underneath my car seats with a flash light (a word of caution on that one – there’s some scary stuff under there) and have resorted to my Catholic friend’s advice of calling on Saint Anthony for help, but I still have a handful of treasures that remain on the missing list.
I just finished reading a book about a man who collects lost things (most bordering on trash) and makes up stories about their history and how they became lost. It was creatively clever and creepy at the same time, especially that he had a room in his house where he stored all of the lost “treasures.” Reading that book had me wondering where exactly my things have ended up. Did someone pick up my ring and wonder what in the world that was on the from of it and where it came from? I guess my hat was kind of self explanatory.
The best way for me to deal with what seems to be a growing list of lost treasures is to simply let them go and move on and hope they have all found a nice home, but then I see a lost cat sign and rings and hats and even a lost coat come to mind as I fill my cart with groceries.
Included in the lost item searches and the incredible amount of time I have wasted looking for them, ( my phone being the current champ), I have to include in that time sucking list the many things I’ve looked for that don’t exist. Case in point, one of my favorite Christmas wreaths. After wasting a lot of time digging through Christmas boxes while muttering…”who loses their Christmas wreath????”, I remembered. My wreath became a nest and the home for a growing family of robins early last spring. Those kind of finds feel good. Case solved. Move on and go buy a replacement. Or there’s the time I spent far too much time looking for a bracelet that I had forgotten I had given to my sister. Again. Case solved. Move on. My sister, Susan, can attest to the amount of time and energy I dedicated to items I “lost” while on the Camino, only to be found moments later in the bottom of my pack. It seems impossible to lose something when you only had a dozen or so items you were traveling with, but it happened and far too often. On one of our last days of walking the Camino, when that lost item was my passport, I realized from her frustrations with me that this was indeed something that happened far too often especially given that none of those “lost” items were even lost at all. By the way, after finding my passport, which wasn’t at the bottom of my pack, but rather on the counter at the pilgrim office in Santiago, I came to love it even more and take far more care with it than I used to.
On the flip side of the lost of course are the found and is it possible that if the finds outnumber the losts, the lost will remain lost? You know, karma-wise? Many years ago, when I was living in Phoenix, my sister, Robin, and I found a lock box (unlocked) in a small storage shed behind our apartment unit. It clearly had belonged to previous tenants and was accidentally left behind and from the age of it, it looks like it could have been several tenants ago. We checked in with the manager of the apartment complex and she said it was ours now. The box was filled with sterling silver souvenir spoons; a collection that included most of the states, along with some random ones from other countries. At a time when we were both living paycheck to paycheck, often coming up short, that, and the high price of silver at the time, were the perfect combination and honestly, a dream come true for the both of us. As much as I wanted to keep the beautiful set, neither one of us really could afford that option and so I started shopping around Phoenix for the highest bidder. As I recall, the spoons brought around $300, but it felt like thousands at the time when funds were so very tight for the both of us. My only regret is that I didn’t save one of spoons, perhaps the Arizona one, simply for the memory. I’ve often wondered, while looking for my own cherished items, if the owner of those spoons ever wondered what happened to them? Did he/she give up on the search or did they simply forget about them? If I could, I’d reassure that previous owner that the spoons were sold to the owner of a very nice antique shop in downtown Phoenix. I chose his shop over several others because he had a number tattooed on his forearm arm and when he saw me looking over at his rolled up sleeve, he offered me a chair and shared his story with me. Even the memory of that day seems so random to me — sitting in an antique store in downtown Phoenix, selling found souvenir spoons to a Holocaust survivor with a story to tell me. The spoons ended up in a much better place than a metal storage locker behind a garden apartment. Those spoons became the proceeds that bought my airline ticket to the next place I called home in Alaska.
So if karma hasn’t quite evened out on the lost and found in my life, that’s OK. Maybe the ring and the hat are like my souvenir spoons and are helping someone else out.
Oh, and the cat? Well, the sign is no longer hanging on the door of my grocery store, so I’m going to assume that there was a happy ending. I’m also concluding that its owners love their cat even more now that it’s been found, because that’s how it always works.