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To Have and To Hold and to Lose and To Find

I move stuff around our house all of the time. I like to organize and one of my mantras is, "There's a place for everything when everything is in its place." Often, that place, however, is not my place. I very much dislike clutter and being surrounded by stuff stresses me out. A fun Friday night for me is cleaning the house and, when I really need to decompress, I grab a trash bag and fill it to the brim. I am the only person in my house like this.

Caroline is just plain messy while Charlotte and Andy are borderline hoarders. Anything that touches their fingertips never leaves their possession and they have a magician-esque manner of acquiring objects. "Oh, look what I just pulled out of this my black hat! (Charlotte owns a magician hat, by the way) Yes, it's 17 plastic toys from McDonald's Happy Meals!" "Oh, what's that behind your ear? A lead soldier! Fancy finding that here!"

I'm not sure if I'm just that unobservant or if I am in denial, but stuff in our house accumulates like wet gremlins. I have to work my very own magic to get anything out of the house without Charlotte and Andy seeing, therefore, I spend a lot of time putting stuff into containers and bins in hopes that, if the junk is tucked away, at least is it out of sight and maybe out of mind. Sadly, there just aren't enough containers, or should I say, large enough containers, to fit all of the junk my family has gathered so Andy and Charlotte are now sharing our spare bedroom/office. Like dealing with hazardous materials, it is an enter at your own risk space and one that I just try to pass by as quickly as possible. My only purpose for that room is to take junk that is scattered throughout the house and deposit it there. Chances are, if one of my hoarders is looking for a coveted item, it can be found in the junk room.

And, it seems as though one of my family members is always looking for something. The quest for the missing X, Y or Z generally takes place right before bed (either for them or me), before catching the school bus, prior to catching a flight, when I am on my way out the door, or am on the telephone. The person missing the X, Y, or Z is always very upset, very pushy, and always blaming me for misplacing the missing "I can't live without" item. Now, I own up to the fact that 50% of the time, it's likely that I did see X under the couch, Y in my car, or Z in the mudroom and I threw it in the trash, packed it in a box, or threw it in the hazardous waste room. However, 50% of the time, I have never even seen the item nor had anything to do with its moving from one location (say, under a bed) to another location (like inside one's boot). Yet for some reason, when it comes to missing objects, it is apparently my responsibility to recover the suddenly precious thing. Like right this second. Like stop everything that you are doing because it does not matter and I'm going to stand here and ask you over and over again until you find that small yellow piece of paper that had a name on it and a date and I won't do anything if you don't find it for me. Right now.

I have a method for managing these frequently occurring situations. To start, I stare blankly at the person yelling at me. Next, I announce I've never seen the item. Then, I ask whether the person missing the item has looked for the item. Ha! That gets 'em every time. Then, the person yells at me again. There's usually some arms flying around and accusatory words flung in my direction. This is when I must pull out the threat, "If I look for X, Y, Z and I find it, you're...."

So, one of two things happens at this point in time. If the person missing the item is one of the kids, I end up looking for the item, which generally involves me going into one of their rooms and picking the item up off of the floor. The alternative is that they get distracted and forget they are missing the item and we are all happy- at least for the time being. Now, if Andy is missing something, I either turn my head in a direction and spot the item or I ignore him for a long time because I'm rubber and he's glue. Eventually, his mantantrum settles down and he stops ranting at me because, lo and behold, he has found whatever item he was looking for and has neglected to tell me.

It's been a particularly rough few weeks for Andy in the missing item realm. I've gotten an 11:30 pm phone call from him, from a rest stop outside of Buffalo, asking me to search the house for his debit card. He insisted I stop everything to find a set of car keys despite the fact that I had an extra set in my hands. That piece of paper with the name and address on it? Underneath the lap top. This is the cycle of life in our house. Things are lost. Then, they are found.

Today, I talked to Andy around lunchtime. If we can, we try to touch base during the day, mostly so Andy can remind me where he is or where he is going. (I lose track of Andy's whereabouts like he loses track of stuff.) Today, in closing the conversation, Andy asked me to look for something he's misplaced. I knew something was wrong because he didn't blame me for moving the item and that was a first. He told me he'd spent 45 minutes this morning looking for his wedding ring and he asked me to look for it when I got home this evening. He talked through retracing his steps and asked me to look where he'd already looked. He told me he called a place he'd had a meeting yesterday hoping it'd turn up there but no such luck.

So, tonight, after work, after feeding the pets, and making dinner, and doing the dishes, and helping the girls with their homework, and their bath, and reading them stories, Charlotte and I went on a mission to find the ring. But, this time, it didn't take a simple gesture of walking from one room to another to find the ring. There was no one yelling at me and nobody to to threaten because Andy was not home to look for his own wedding ring. After about 20 minutes, it was past bedtime and we gave up.

I shouldn't read into it but reading into things is what I do best. Andy loses everything so why is it bothering me so much that he lost his wedding ring? The ring that he picked from a gold souk in the United Arab Emirates. The ring that inspired me to get the same ring for myself because I decided our rings should match and this ring looked so perfect on his finger. The ring that we bought before he'd formally proposed to me because we saw the perfect wedding bands and knew we had to sieze the moment. The ring I had inscribed for our 10th anniversary that reads on the inside, My Rock". The ring that symbolizes 'til death do us part, and we're in this together, and nothing compares to you.

I think it bothers me because I often feel that, since that day in the souk, far away from home, we have built a home together and despite growing and changing, we have grown and changed together and for the other. But, sometimes, we are just too busy for one another, so focused on who we need to be for everyone else, that we forget who we need to be for each other and sometimes, that gold band is the only reminder in my day to keep Andy on my mind. Without that ring on his finger, when he's at a rest stop in Buffalo at 11:30 at night, at a county meeting, or a baord meeting, or bathing the girls while it's my turn to be at work, will he remember to think of me? Where do I fit in his day if not resting constantly on his finger?

Maybe I'm reading into it too much. Maybe it's not a symbol of how fragile marriage can be. Maybe it just means he's a shit head and loses stuff all of the time.

With our 12th wedding anniversary just three days away, I can only hope that, like all other things that he loses, his wedding band will just turn up, and he'll neglect to tell me, and I'll see it on his finger again.


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