Lost Not Found

By Patrick aka Herjolf via Flickrs Creative Commons

Yesterday I lost something. To be specific, I can’t find it. This thing—something recently given to me, a tiny book—is personalized. And highly personal. Truly priceless in its contents.

I’ve gone through every obvious place it should be . . . like the table where I last remember seeing it, on bookshelves, and in drawers of paper products. But I’ve also searched not so obvious places like piles of folded laundry and car glove boxes. I searched through the box of batteries and the junk drawer, too. I’ve looked through bags and boxes of all kinds of things.

When my son was a teenager, I lost my favorite pair of sunglasses—they disappeared out of the car. I searched high and low but never found them. My kids laughed along with me as I questioned each of their friends for months about my sunglasses, every time I drove one home from school or a group of kids to the beach. It became a joke, but it bugged me. I never did find the sunglasses and eventually agreed with the likely hypothesis that they fell out of the car.

Once when we were packing for a move—this before we had children—MEH (My Engineer Husband) and I misplaced a hammer (how do you do that?). We looked for weeks but never found it. We’d been using it in the old house, packed the last box, loaded it in the car, but never found the hammer in the new house. We searched both houses to no avail.

“Maybe I left it on the roof of the car,” MEH mused back then. We’d lost several coffee cups that way.

A pack of peat pots disappeared once. My son’s pre-school backpack (that really did disappear off the roof of the car, but when we turned around, seconds after we saw it fly off in the rearview mirror, we couldn’t find it anywhere). Socks, of course. A favorite nightshirt.

But nothing as irreplaceable as this.

In all other regards, it’s been my lucky month—my son and daughter have both been home. But I’ve been out of my usual routine, so I’m imagining I tossed the book aside as I ran to greet them, to chase the dog, or to pull a boiling pot off the stove.

But I wonder.

“I have a mystery on my hands,” I mentioned to my son when he came downstairs for coffee in the morning. He’d come home in the middle of the night, so the book had already gone missing before he arrived.

My daughter, though, had been home; I’d shown it to her and her boyfriend the day it disappeared. Had it somehow slipped into their things? They’re both in medical school and they always have plenty of books and papers, laptops, bags of more books—endless studying!—maybe I placed it on one of their stacks?

Déjà vu all over again (as an old boss of mine used to say)—like the sunglasses. After they left, I emailed them:Had they accidentally scooped it up? They checked and re-checked their things—

No such luck.

Last night, just before we went to bed, MEH went through the trash. (He’s nice like that; he kindly takes on many of life’s less savory tasks.) Then the recycling. We both looked under the couches and the dog bed, through the sock basket, through stacks of books. My folders—again.

Still no luck.

It’s missing. Gone at least for now.

I Googled missing things (of course I did), wondering—do other people go through this? Big things disappear. The whole city of Atlantis. Blackbeard’s Treasure. There are countless stories about those kinds of losses. But also . . . a story about a woman who lost her wedding ring while gardening, found it sixteen years later growing on a carrot. Another woman who lost an autographed book, only to find it five years later when she ordered a used book on Amazon—it was her very own personalized book.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think either of these extreme things will happen. I think in the distraction of everyday life, I put my lost item somewhere unexpected. Just waiting to be found. I fully expect that someday when I least expect it, I’ll open a drawer I’ve opened a hundred times and there it will be—in plain sight.

At least that’s what I’m hoping.

UPDATE: Four hours after I posted this blog, I found the little book…  it had fallen down into the mechanism of an office chair. Keep your eyes peeled for the hammer, the peat pots, and Blackbeard’s treasure, though!

Have you ever lost anything valuable? And irreplaceable? Did you find it? Any suggestions on where I should look?


  1. All I can say, Julia, is that your post has that leaden thud of something heavy and unasked for landing at my feet. The sense of something missing, something that was here minutes ago is spooky and unsettling. All you can do is try to look where you looked when you were too distracted to pay attention–and when that fails, to slowly (this is important) visit and touch everything you’ve come in contact with since the little book went missing.
    And yes, this is probably futile advice. Good luck.

    • As I just wrote in the update to this post — I FOUND IT!! Funnily enough, it was stuck in the mechanism of an office chair, had slipped down, and when I glanced at it, at first I thought “Boy, I don’t remember the chair looking like that.” Then I looked closer and realized. Your comment reminded me of the old Sesame Street skit that showed kids retracing their steps to find something they’d lost. Very sound advice. Not futile at all! Thanks, Barry!

  2. After my mother died, I went through her jewelry box to retrieve the pearl necklace and earrings my father gave her when I was born. Gone. I tore apart her room, went through mine. Interrogated my step-father. They simply vanished. I knew they were they were there because I put them there myself when the clasp broke for safe-keeping. Now that I had the time and cash I figured I could set the earrings for pierced ears and restring the necklace, but they never turned up.

    I suspect when she was in one of her morphine-induced states she gave them to someone as a keepsake. She was famous for that giving things away without consulting me or telling me she would replace an item and then never find it (she did that with first editions of books that are now collectibles). Or maybe one of the home aids stole them. I’d like not to think that because I remember how kind they were to her and to me and they didn’t seem the type who would sift through her personal items. Who knows. They’re gone.

    I have a very expensive pair of Chanel sunglasses. I lose them all the time and they always resurface. I had a pair of earrings from Mexico that would get lost and then appear in the oddest places. I finally lost one and just have its companion.

    Years ago, these losses bothered me. Now not so much. I’m not as attached to them as I was in the past. Now I’m more concerned about losing my health, youth, and looks. I’m not growing old gracefully and have a hard time accepting the changes in my body.

    • I’m so sorry, Rebeca. I know what you went through. My mother’s jewelry box disappeared, too, and my father looked everywhere for it after my mother died. I also suspect someone either took it or (possibly more likely) she gave it to someone. I was talking to a friend, and the same thing happened to his mother. It’s so sad. As for the aging… it’s hard for me to lose those parts of me, too, and our society doesn’t make it any easier. Here’s to graceful acceptance for us both! xox

  3. Nina Badzin says:

    Well, I just lost my credit card (again). It’s a bad habit. Wonder if there’s a deeper meaning!

  4. So glad to hear that you found it! It’s so frustrating…the mystery of where it went is almost as upsetting as the missing item. 🙂

  5. I once bought a second hand vinyl with a poster inside. The poster had a bit of water damage, so I put it inside a very large book. This was 27 years ago. Since then I moved a countless amount of times, including to another country. The amount of very large books at my place was about six. I checked each of them. Then I moved to smaller ones. Phone book (when they still existed). Encyclopedias. Etc.

    So I’ve been searching for a poster for 27 years now, and still have no clue where it is.

    In general, though, when I lose something Husby ALWAYS knows.

    Me: Have you seen my keys?
    Him: They’re upstairs on your desk.
    Me: Um, have you even gone upstairs since yesterday?
    Him: No, why would I?

    External memory is amazing, but when he’s out of the house and doesn’t pick up the phone I am dooooooomed.

    • That’s so crazy when things like the poster happen — I hope you find it! As for the keys and Husby finding them… that’s very similar to what happens in our house, but it’s usually I who am the finder. Which is what made this time all the more weird. (Maybe someday when Husby’s gone and you’re looking for your keys, you’ll find the poster! 😉