I’m not someone who holds a grudge, but there is one thing I have a hard time letting go. And that’s lost things. I remember nearly every single thing I’ve ever lost or had stolen – seriously. And I hate that I don’t know where those things are. It feels like an unfinished story, a part of a film that never got completed, and the absence of reuniting at the end of a happy fairytale. These things are lost. For good. And their chapter is closed. So why do I feel like it’s still an incomplete ending?
It may sound a little crazy, but I sometimes think about my lost things. Where are they? Is something decaying in a landfill, covered up with diapers and last year’s magazines? Is someone wearing a stolen piece of my jewelry? And most of all, will I ever know what happened? In fact, I think this is the most irksome thing about losing an item for me: what happened to that thing that made me lose it.
First, let me be clear that I don’t just lose things. I rarely lose anything. I’m hyper-aware of where I put things and I even know where most of Jon’s things are regularly enough that he asks me where his keys are before he even goes to look for them. But perhaps it’s that rarity that when I do lose something, it’s so out of my normal life that I can’t stand it. I’m an ultra-casual, non-neurotic person, but this is the one little thing I have a hard time letting go. I feel like the ghosts of my objects follow me around a little, their memories lingering like old friends.
Let me tell you a story about one of the most expensive things I’ve ever lost. When I was a young college student, Jon (then just my boyfriend) had much more extravagant taste than he does today. He liked to buy handbags and sunglasses for his girlfriends, and I was no exception. I was a sophomore when he bought me the most beautiful necklace from Dior (by luxury standards today it wasn’t so expensive, but it was the nicest piece of jewelry I’d ever had). It had been on the runway, it was one of 12 made like that, and was covered in metal flowers and sparkling crystals. Similar to Lulu Frost’s necklaces, it was a statement piece. I cherished it, named her Sparkles, kept it in its cute little box, and wore it only once to a black-tie event we were invited to in L.A.
That particular year in college, I was in a communal dorm room consisting of two doubles and a single, with a common area, bathroom, and kitchen. My single was a walkthrough, meaning you had to cut through my room in order to get to one of the doubles. It was totally fine for the most part, and I didn’t mind it. However, there were so many roommates coming and going that there was no way to keep track of who left for classes last, when the doors were locked, who was hanging out where, and which guests were staying in my room while I was visiting Jon across the country. It makes perfect sense that the necklace was eventually stolen from my dorm room, but the thing that bothered me so much was when did it happen? I was annoyed at myself for not being able to remember the last time I had seen it at the very back of my deep closet, behind all my purses and jackets, and I only discovered it was missing when it was time to move out at the end of the year. I asked all my friends and roommates, who had no idea what could have happened, and still today I don’t have a clue where it went (though Jon has his suspicions). The item itself didn’t mean that much to me, it was just a bauble that was gift, but I didn’t like the feeling of losing something. And all these years later I still want to know where it is today and who is wearing it? Did they take good care of it? Did they sell it? Does it go up for auction on eBay? These are the questions that float around in my head every now and then.
And when we had a break-in towards the end of our time in San Francisco, I was plagued by the idea of where my makeup was. Yes, the creep (who was arrested, given two strikes, and probably back in prison today), stole my makeup! That beauty bag was my favorite thing in our entire apartment, and it was only hours after the police left that I realized it had been snagged from under the bathroom sink. It was essentially worthless, full of used products that I had collected over the years, but it was gone anyway. I sat on the floor of our living room and wailed like a baby. I wasn’t sad about anything else he’d taken, just that those sleek, black palettes and jeweled powders had been suddenly wrenched from me. When they found the guy soon after with an apartment full of miscellaneous stolen items (he had been doing 3-5 robberies a day for weeks), my old makeup was nowhere in the pile. Jon, being the exceptional person that he is, bought me the exact makeup case brand new on eBay, and did his best to bulk up my empty collection, but today I still wonder what happened to my makeup. Why would anyone want to use my old, most definitely expired, kit? Maybe the thief’s girlfriend got a go. I don’t know…where ever it is, it still feels like a very unsatisfactory ending to me.
This is true for the countless lego pieces and barbie shoes that left incomplete sets. It’s true for the tiny tripod I forgot on an icy ledge in Iceland, that was gone not 2 minutes later. It’s true for the E-lettered ring that fell out of my hand and into the car outside a Middle Eastern restaurant. Or my gold anchor ring that went missing during a strip-tease class in Hollywood. And I never forgot my old Gap pea coat that I had shoved into a shopping bag and accidentally left under the checkout counter at a store. Someone took that, even though I returned five minutes later to grab the worthless linty coat.
I guess what I’m saying, in not so few words, is that when I invite things into my life – when I own them, travel with them, and enjoy them – I’m sad to see them go. Especially when I feel like it was a premature ending. I want to hear the rest of the story, regardless of getting my item back, I want to know where they left me and how. Because I know, deep down I know, that they’ve got a second life with someone else. And I’d just like to know what that is.
Do you ever think about the things you’ve lost? Where do you think they’ve gone? Share with me in the comments below!