I’m channeling my 14-year-old self. She’s thinking about putting on her big hoop earrings and baggy pants and going to the mall downtown.
Today I write about something totally unweighty, yet which means absolutely more to me than all the debate on U.S. or global politics or who’s doing what to whom in the world of social commentary. Earrings. I have one absolute favorite pair, one pair that’s dressup, another pair for dressup that never seem to make it out of their protective box, and the everyday pair. I used to wear more variety, but for so many pairs, I’ve either lost one earring or I’ve lost a backing for one of the pair; backings, which one might think interchangeable, are not. Then there are those buried in the jewelry box I’ve just plain forgotten for one reason or another.
I wore my favorite pair on Sunday to the UU Fellowship. I had bought them in San Francisco in a tiny shop from a woman who was a friend to my son and his family. It was during one of my last trips to their neighborhood before they moved from the City and the earrings were on sale – of course. They are extremely light, being made from aluminum or some such metal and they’re more contemporary in their appearance than every other pair I have. Most importantly, sentiment is beginning to surround the metal’s molecules, transforming their appearance so whatever gloss had been there has been transformed through the patina of many memories.
The Fellowship is held in rented space where the floor is tile. I was carrying my purse cross-strapped and wore a wooly scarf with my heavy winter sweater, the sweater that attracts pine needles, bugs, lightning, children less than 10 kilos, dogs, cats and most squirrels. Everything sticks to it. There was a slight mixup in the order of the service and the collection was announced earlier than it was to have been, so I quickly tried to get the purse over my head to open it for my contribution. In the course of doing so, one earring came off – unknown to me at the time.
I didn’t discover that it was missing until I returned home and reached to take it off. At first I thought it had stuck to the sweater as the bag could have pulled it from my ear (it’s happened in the past and I’ve sat through lunches with one earring nestled safely in the fibers of clothing): no luck. I wasn’t desolate as I had roast chicken to look forward to, but I was saddened. I thought of returning to the hotel where the Fellowship takes place, of retracing my steps, of asking everyone along the route if they had seen it. Those of you who have seen me in action with lost items know that I am relentless, compulsive, obsessed with retrieving the lost object, and I have nothing on my mind but the recovery. This time I didn’t get into that mood and perhaps it had something to do with the chicken still being warm. I satisfied myself the sweater had not snared the earring, and if the sweater had, indeed, ever been in possession of the earring, that it had shed the decoration, unlike its behavior with all other things, animate or not.
I didn’t search for it the next day either.
Tuesday I met a friend for lunch near the hotel: before we met, however, I went to the hotel where Sunday’s meeting had been held and asked the clerk at the front desk – using (as far as I could tell) all the correct tenses in Spanish – if anyone had found an earring, but no, it hadn’t been found. I went upstairs to where the meeting had taken place and searched to no avail. I scoured the sidewalk and street for the earring as I walked to the restaurant. I resigned myself to having yet once more lost an earring.
We finished lunch and my friend returned to her work place and I went on to Jens’ and Bo’s cafe for a latte, continuing to scan the pavement. At the cafe Miles Davis was playing Autumn Leaves on the sound system, I sipped my latte, and I was feeling good, what with the picking of mandarins in the morning, the lunch with Delia, the sound of Miles and the latte all contributing to my good spirits. Jens and I began to talk, and Barbara, whom I had just met Sunday at the UUs, came in, unexpectedly. The three of us chatted for quite some time and I left around 4:30 for home.
On the walk home I passed Mr. Sleazy Man’s house – he wasn’t outside, thankfully – and when I reached the casita, I put the yogurt in the refrigerator, took off the sweater that had captured so many jacaranda leaves, cobwebs and parts of bird nests while mandarin picking, and began to empty my purse, not knowing why, exactly, but I suppose it gave me something to do. The last thing to come out of the purse was the earring errant. Elation.