Last week, I lost my daytimer.
That may not sound like a big deal, certainly not one deserving of its own paragraph, but I can assure you it-a was-a veray bigga deal to me. I even temporarily developed an Italian accent.
There are a few elements that made the experience especially disturbing.
• I am too stupid to graduate to electronic daytiming, so everything is written down in my old-school daytimer, including (and don’t tell anyone) all of my passwords.
• I was keenly aware of the last time I used it, which was only 16 hours before I couldn’t find it.
The event made me remember interesting behavior that surfaces when I’m looking for the lost. This thus (and yes, I’ve been waiting my whole life to place those two words beside each other) made me curious to know if you react in the same way.
My searches always begin with me casually sweeping my eyes over the usual suspect places. In this case, I looked on the dining room table, which is where my daytimer habitually lives, then inside my computer bag, then on the kitchen counter, then in the bedroom.
When that didn’t work, I expanded my search perimeter. I looked in the hallway bathroom. I looked in the basement. I looked in William’s office.
I knew, mid-search, that none of these places made sense, but felt relatively pleased to check there anyway, just so I could rule out a few spots in the house. My casual scanning though had graduated to actual looking, and I was beginning to feel annoyed by the minutes that were being spent on this endeavor.
When that didn’t work, I went to look under the dining room table. Then I looked on its chairs in case it fell onto one of them.
Then, when that didn’t work, I looked on the dining room table again. Like, really good this time. Then I looked in my computer bag. Then I looked on the kitchen counter. Then I looked in the bedroom.
Why did this make sense? Well, in case the dining room table had temporarily swallowed my daytimer and regurgitated it back up while I was looking in the bathroom. Or in case my daytimer had decided to walk to the bedroom.
An hour went by and semi-desperation set in, launching the chapter called “Down Under.” I looked under the bed. I looked under the couch. I looked under the kitchen table. Then I looked under every surface in the entire house.
I turned the page to the chapter called “Inside Edition,” which involved pulling things open and looking inside them: mail drawer, junk drawer, makeup drawer, then — what the hell? — sock drawer, linen closet, Christmas closet.
At the end of two hours, I found myself standing in the pantry looking inside my KitchenAid mixer.
At this point, I made myself stop and try to retrace my steps, mom-style. I’d last written in the daytimer while I was on the phone with Apple Support. I hadn’t left the house since.
But the dogs had.
I looked down at them and tried to smell guilt.
I tried not to imagine my daytimer torn to shreds under the deck.
I asked them to please, please, pretty please tell me what they’d done.
I’m here to tell you, Tilly has developed one heck of a poker face.
So I headed outside and walked around the house. I walked around twice. But there was nothing.
I arrived at the stage where I imagined my poor, little daytimer sitting helplessly somewhere, incredibly lost, trying to call out to me, but not able to do it loudly enough.
This is another behavior that always surfaces when I lose something: I anthropomorphize the lost object. Note that I never think my lost items are incapable of speech, just that they tend to whisper.
Then I pictured what was in store for me if I never found it again. And what that would mean to my passwords. And how I wouldn’t know anyone’s birthdays or addresses.
Then I considered the possibility that I was losing my mind, that whole parts of my days were lopped off, but I was unaware of it. Then I started thinking about the movie “The Matrix” and how everyone is just plugged in and what we think of as real life is really just a construct. And then I thought about the movie “Inception” and how maybe my daytimer was my totem and what was I going to do now?
I’ll tell you, nothing good will come out of those thoughts.
When William got home from work, I announced to him that a robber had broken into the house and only stolen my daytimer.
My husband looked at me and asked me a few questions mom-style. Within 15 minutes, he’d found my daytimer. It was in a drawer in the dining room where I keep my external hard drive. I’d backed up my photos before I’d called Apple support. Then I guess I mindlessly put it in the drawer with the hard drive.
I stared at him, convinced (again) he was made of a bit of magic. Then I stared at my daytimer and hugged it and told it I loved it so. And then I started writing this column.