About 3 or 4 years ago, I stumbled onto an Old Navy dark blue denim jacket. It had been abandoned in a lost and found pile at Cattlelacs in Manchaca, Texas, where Doug Moreland hosted a weekly music jam. Doug was de-cluttering, and if I hadn’t taken the jacket, it would have been thrown out or donated. It fit perfectly—tailored but not too snug, with enough room to wear a light sweater underneath. It was meant for me, and it became a vital part of my wardrobe.
I wore it all over Austin and the surrounding Hill Country, to West Texas, to Los Angeles and the Bay Area, to Santa Fe, and to Mexico. I wore it with jeans and skirts. I wore it to casual places and fancy places. I loved the copper-toned snap buttons and the two little breast pockets. The way the bottom flared out with a hint of Victorian style.
Recently, I took it with me when Daniel and I went to eat pho on a Friday night in Arlington. Being early October in Texas, it’s still hot enough that restaurants crank up the air conditioner, so I always make it a point to take a light jacket with me, just in case. I hung it up on the back of the chair, but I decided not to wear it. The sleeves were always a bit too long, and I didn’t want to dip them in the beef broth.
And it wasn’t until the following Tuesday, when I was looking for my jacket to wear with my Victorian-esque, cowgirl light blue skirt, that I realized I did not have it. I searched the entire two-bedroom apartment. In the piles of clothes, in the coat closet, in the bedroom closet…any possible place that I could have accidentally thrown it. Maybe I’d left it in the car. But when I looked, it wasn’t in there either, and I needed to head off to work. I started to feel the anxiety that comes when I lose a material possession that I really like.
I reminded myself on the way to work that it wasn’t worth stressing about it—at least not right away. But logic never matters in these moments. Anxiety swells up to ridiculous proportions, the kind of anxiety appropriate for being chased by a tiger, thoughts swirling around in my head like a chaotic snowstorm.
Maybe I could call the restaurant when I got to work and see if they had it.
Ok great, but no use thinking about it now until you get to the office and can make a phone call.
Just keep your mind on the classical radio station. Keep your mind on the traffic behind and ahead of you.
The drivers are really aggressive here. My heart is pounding. I haven’t taken a breath for the last five minutes. Where’s my jacket?
Maybe I could ask Daniel to look for it when he gets home. He gets home before me. Surely, there’s somewhere I didn’t look. That’s it, I probably didn’t see it. Maybe it was in the bedroom closet after all, camouflaged by other clothes. He’ll probably find it, and everything will be fine. But what if he doesn’t find it?
Halfway through the work day, Daniel confirmed the jacket was no where to be found at home. I was upset myself for leaving the jacket behind. And it seemed that there was nothing I could do to reclaim it.
When I returned to my car at the end of the work day, I looked again. Maybe it had gotten buried under the pile of towels that had been sitting in the backseat for weeks. But it wasn’t.
Look, just accept the fact that it’s gone forever. And that’s okay. It’s just a jacket. And you got it for free, no money lost. You’ll find another one.
No, but it’s my favorite jacket in the world! I am so mad at myself for losing the jacket.
I called the restaurant one more time, and they said they didn’t have it. Then they asked which location I’d gone to—and I became hopeful once more, thinking maybe I had called the wrong location twice—but I confirmed that the location I was calling was definitely the one we’d been to. As a last-ditch effort, I sent an email to my coworkers to ask if they had seen it. Maybe, just maybe I had actually left it somewhere in the theater.
There’s still a tiny possibility that I didn’t take the jacket to the restaurant, and that it will mysteriously show up one day. I have been misplacing a lot of things lately. Dropping them. Leaving them behind. Not knowing where I put them in the first place. I’ve been distracted by all the new changes in my life: new city, new job, soon-to-be-new-house, Daniel’s new graduate school adventures. I haven’t been paying attention as well as I should.
I had two incidents of credit card fraud on two different credit cards—I’m still not sure if I dropped them somewhere when I was taking another card out of my wallet, or if I had left them in our apartment entry table and were swiped by an apartment staff person. Several weeks ago, I left my instrument tuner at a shop/artist collective in downtown Arlington where there’s a weekly music jam. But fortunately the owner found it and kept is safe for me. Yesterday, I thought I’d lost the key to our new house. (The realtor had handed it to me over the weekend, and I absent-mindedly put it in compartment between the two front car seats.)
Part of me still wants to mourn my jacket. It was a great jacket. But it’s gone. And I don’t blame anyone at the pho restaurant for keeping it if they found it. Maybe the person who lost it before I found it mourned it for a while, too. It’s had a great life. Dear whoever found my new jacket: I hope you will have wonderful adventures wearing it. Travel with it! Play music with it! Go to fabulous dinner parties with it! And if you lose it, don’t be sad.
Oh. And I need to learn to keep better track of my belongings. Perhaps if I remembered to be in the present moment more often, my mind wouldn’t be swirling all over the place, and I wouldn’t be losing things all the time. Or I maybe I need to not become so attached to material possessions. They are just things, after all.