Sunday, January 6, 2008

It’s in “a better place”

When I was a child and some person or pet died, I was told “They’ve gone to a better place.” I am getting superstitious about all the items that I had -- when I first moved in -- set in “any old place” and then moved “to a better place” once I got a sense of the cupboards, etc. They have vanished as surely as those passed-over pets. And the most frustrating part is that I can recall in detail my decision to move them, and from where -- but before I get to the image of where I moved them to, it “fades to black” as the directors say. The first location is where I look again and again, as if some part of me is expecting that the item -- the jar of garlic salt, for example -- left footprints to the next spot, or I could catch it returning to visit the cumin. I know that if you go to the kitchen for water or something, then forget what you went for, you return to the spot where you first thought of getting it, in order to jog your memory (or if jogging doesn‘t work, beat it around the head and neck).

I have almost gotten to the desperation point -- sticking a Post-it on the place where I move it from, listing the “forwarding address”! Except that I’ve gotten superstitious about forwarding addresses, too: the credit card companies are now telling me my new address is that of my ex-husband… either he’s still claiming me as a dependent (as if it wasn’t the other way around!) or the fundamentalists have infiltrated and divorce is no longer an option on credit reports. Aside: I wish we could organize those damn companies like the “headline news” companies -- have them feeling embarrassed about having outdated information, rather than proud of it.

But back to the missing items. The problem is compounded because I am struggling to get an entire house in shape at once, and therefore I am pulled in a dozen directions, which makes it simpler to stop looking for something and move on to a more do-able task. But then I forget… and I’ll attempt the task again tomorrow, and go through the entire routine again! I’ve posted a list on my fridge, “AWOL: these items are missing and believed to be organizing in secret: bracket for magnifying lamp; other set of tulip curtains… REWARD for capture!” Possibly the gremlins who inhabit the house after I’m asleep will be motivated to nudge them into view.

And perhaps the most frustrating part is that there seemed to be a cosmic mechanism whereby one of a pair could ask, “Have you seen…?” and the object magically appeared, if only to humiliate the asker. Now living alone, I have no one to ask, and before I spend $400 on a pet, I want to be sure the same cosmic mechanism works with dumb animals… but come to think of it, if it worked on my ex… but I don’t want to get back into cleaning up after something, just as a trade-off for a shortcut to locating things. Perhaps there could be a phone number to call? A kind of 911 for missing objects -- you take the cell phone, start wandering the house and call 611... and as soon as you connect to a person, you’d ask and the object would show up. Might help unemployment by giving jobs to those who have a hard time handling actual questions. Heck, it might make a nice after-school solution for grade-schoolers! Even five-year-olds know how to pick up a phone and say “hello”… and that’s all that would be needed.

Meanwhile, I continue to wander around the new house, staring into cupboards and wondering, “Was the wood polish there, or did I dream it?” and, in my eagerness to find the lost items, moving and misplacing a whole new generation of items! At this rate, I will be lost soon myself. (Hint: check under the pile of boxes in the office alcove -- I probably crawled in to hide).

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