This past holiday season, I lost four articles of clothing/accessories. This might be a record for me. I'm the type who nearly always forgets my bag of "wrapped," leftover food when I eat out (cue the sweet waiter running out of the restaurant shouting that I've forgotten it). I've lost countless pairs of gloves and umbrellas. Then there were the five rings I wore in junior high—including a silver one my mom had worn in her teens—that I left at one of the bathroom sinks when I went to wash my hands. I didn't notice I'd left them there until I was already sitting in class. (When I went back for them minutes later, they were gone.) This time around, it was two gold-plated midi rings (you can see them pictured above, at the tippy top of my fingers, and below), a scarf that one of my good friends gave me when she was abroad, and a pair of silver shoes I got for Christmas from my sister. Oh, and those shoes? I left them behind on a train along with all the Christmas gifts for Tom's family. This is (my) real life.
Losing things, like an umbrella or a glove, happens often enough—at least to me. I'm distracted, I'm rushing, aren't we all? (Note: This is not a good thing!) As soon as I realize I don't have, say, that umbrella or glove, I feel a burning moment of nostalgia for the item. (I once cried—for real—thinking about the yoga mat I left behind at college after I graduated. I kept picturing it cramped in a locker at the gym. Look, that yoga mat had feelings, just like you and me, ok? Ha! Plus, graduating college: always a tough time. Enough said.) The process of losing something usually goes like this for me: moment of realization, that burning nostalgia, frantically retracing my steps. Sometimes, through some Good Samaritan or a phone call or two, I can find the item and get it back. Phew! But most of the time, when it doesn't turn up, the sinking feeling of knowing it's really gone hits. Then, the acceptance. ("Oh well, it's just an umbrella.") After all, material things are, well, material and replaceable. I've learned a few things from these losses though.
1. Because of all the glove-wearing in winter, I try to wear less rings. I lost one of the midi rings at my friend Mitch's Friendsgiving. Looked down at my hand and, to my horror, saw it was gone. I checked the bathroom and quickly scanned the floor. But what was I going to do, halt the party and have everyone get down on their hands and knees to search for it?! No. (Ok, maybe if my contact lens fell out I'd do that.) I lost the other ring after leaving a restaurant in Noho, also with Mitch. This one must have slipped away when I pulled off my glove. Grrr! So I'm more careful about wearing rings that are loose on my fingers when I'm wearing gloves. I'd almost rather wear rings that are better fitted (and not a midi style) that are likely to stay on, or no rings at all, in winter. Otherwise I'll spend the whole day/night checking my hand like crazy, and that won't work.
2. Always check your seat before you leave. I used to be adamant about doing this, but obviously I've gotten lax. I loved the scarf that I lost, with it's dark, bold colors (pictured above and down below), and wore it all the time. I must have left it behind at a restaurant where Tom and I met another couple for dinner. I wore it for years and years, so I know it got lots of good use, but it's definitely upsetting that I lost it, especially since my friend got it for me. I think that's what can make losing things tough: when they're sentimental and remind you of a certain person or place. This scarf reminded me of my good friend Maggie.
3. Figure out your travel schedule before you go. So, I left a whole bag of gifts for Tom's family on the train, along with some cool silver flats (from my sister) that I was going to wear for New Year's. This all happened because I didn't check whether I had to switch trains at Jamaica on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), and I got into this weird panic and just left the train while trying to get the schedule up on my phone. The thing is, I ride the train all the time. Almost every week. I'm used to checking times and knowing when I have to switch and when I don't, but this one time, I didn't think about what I was doing and didn't prepare. Standing on the track, just as the doors closed, I realized I did need to get off. I felt relieved, but that was quickly replaced by a sick feeling in my stomach when I realized (and didn't want to believe it was true) that I had left the bag on the floor where I had been sitting... on the train that was now pulling away. What a helpless feeling I had as it picked up speed and left the station! I couldn't believe I was going to show up to Tom's empty-handed. I pretty much burst into tears and somehow made it to my next train. I talked to the LIRR employee on the train and the conductor to see if there was any way they could contact the train I had been on. I knew it was heading to the town my sister lived in and I was hoping she'd be able to get it. Trying not to blubber in front of these kind strangers, I persisted and asked if there was anything they could do to help. (I learned later that the employees aren't supposed to radio other trains for lost items, which was probably one of the big reasons why they were a little hesitant to help me.) Luckily, the train employee relented and asked what was in the bag and what it looked like. I explained it had a bottle of wine, another bottle of liquor, wrapped gifts, and a pair of silver shoes. Over the radio, she called it "a bag of alcohol," which made me laugh through my tears. My sister, being the amazing person she is, walked the entire train to try and find the bag when it stopped at the station by her. Nada. I was still hopeful, and filed a report on the LIRR website and called every day for a week. Still nothing. I really do hope someone had a grand time drinking the wine and the special-edition Game of Thrones beer, reading Marie Kondo's book, wearing the silver shoes, and spraying on Nautica Blue cologne (a silly gift I'd gotten for Tom's dad).
The best part about losing things that we love? It teaches us to let go and attach less importance to material stuff. It doesn't mean that when I lose something I won't try my hardest to find it. And it could have been worse with the bag I left on the train: I originally had my handbag in it! But luckily I took it out and transferred it to another bag at some point. Losing my license, my money, etc., would have really sucked.
So, my goals as of late: Take things slow, give myself lots of time when I'm traveling, avoid gloves when wearing midi rings, and always, always check the seat before I leave. Cheers to losing less stuff!
P.S. Do you have any crazy stories of things you've lost (and then found?!). I'd love to hear in the comments below!