Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Lost, and Found

Dear Lost, and Found,

Eliciting two completely different feelings, you are the epitome of an opposite that toys with one's heart.  Like the time I realized I had lost a silicone baking cup, or recently when I noticed I had lost a lid for the most-used size of a Pyrex food container, or when I remembered that a gift card worth $18 was in an envelope that disappeared when I had my handbag mishap.  None of these had a happy ending.  Lost.  Gone.  Forever.  But here's a related story that actually has a happy ending.  Well, sort of.


It was their fifth wedding anniversary.  He presented her with a little beautifully wrapped box from Expensive Jewelry Store.  It was her first pair of diamond stud earrings, in platinum, with screw-on earring backs.  Squealing with giddy delight, she put them on, never intending to take them off.  After all, those screw-on earring backs are supposed to ensure that they stay securely attached to her earlobes, right?

She wore her earrings proudly for about a year.  Then, while on vacation in The Sin City, she noticed, on the morning of their flight back home, that one earring back was missing.  Luckily, the earring itself stayed in the earlobe, just ever so threatening to fall out.  Panicked, she started looking around the hotel room.  Miraculously, she spotted the the shiny metallic earring back on the cheap hotel carpet by one leg of the night stand on her side of the bed.  She retrieved it, kissed it, put it back on, and marveled at how they had just a few minutes to spare before leaving for the airport.  Seriously, what were the odds of finding that tiny piece of metal that could have fallen out anywhere, anytime, anyhow?

Thus started her downward spiral into an obsessive and compulsive check of her earring backs regularly, and sometimes, daily.  A few times she actually caught the earring backs just before they were going to fall off from having somehow unscrewed themselves.

Fast forward nine more years.  Just after having worn the earrings for ten years, she lost one earring back, for good.  She had just stepped out of the shower, and realized that one earring back was gone.  Although very upset about the earring back, she was extremely grateful that the earring stayed in her earlobe during the shower, since the drain openings were quite large.  She searched high and low in her house, under beds, furniture, on every square inch of their tile and wood floors, and meticulously vacuumed all carpeting, waiting to hear that hopeful "clink."  But there was no clink.  There was only ever hair, dust, and garbage in the vacuum cleaner.   She concluded that the earring back went down the shower drain. 

And so, she gave up.  She first lamented over having worn that small piece of metal for a decade.  Then she called Expensive Jewelry Store for a replacement.  They would be happy to send her a replacement, of course, for a payment of Exorbitant Amount (because it has Expensive Jewelry Store logo engraved on its platinum self).  She begrudgingly forked over Exorbitant Amount because it would still cost less than buying a new pair of earrings (well, and for sentimental reasons).  The replacement earring back came in the mail in a little beautifully wrapped box just like the original one.  Life is back to normal; the world is good again.  Except the earring back check escalated into hourly.

One month later, she had come into her warm home from the icy cold outdoors, unwrapped her scarf from her neck, and then heard a little "clink."  She gasped when she saw the same, replaced earring back on the wood floor.  Since the time between 'lost' and 'found' was so short, however, she didn't dwell on it.  Except her fingers then began touch the back of her earlobes all the time

Another two weeks passed.  One day, after having worn a turtleneck sweater all day, she undressed to shower, and in the mirror, one of her earrings looked as if it was about to fall out.  And sure enough, that godforsaken earring back was GONE.  The one she paid Exorbitant Amount for.  Expletives exploded in her head, followed by pangs of anger and frustration.  She reenacted taking off that sweater again.  She got on her hands and knees and searched, full well knowing that it was probably gone, again, forever.  If it rubbed on the turtleneck sweater all day long, it could have fallen out anytime, anywhere, anyhow.  She took out the earring, put it away sadly, and wondered if she should send the pair of earrings off on vacation since they were causing her too much uninvited stress, and she certainly was not going to pay another Exorbitant Amount for yet another replacement earring back. 

After showering, she decided to give it one last shot.  She took a flashlight and walked downstairs with a heavy heart.  In less than thirty seconds, she let out a shocking scream.  There, embedded in her cream colored, uneven Berber carpet at the edge of the living room floor, a dark spot caught her eyes.  She shone the light onto it, and there laid that tiny piece of precious metal.  Really, what are the chances?

Vowing to never have to be on her hands and knees again searching for lost earring backs, she searched for an answer.  And apparently there exists such things as plastic safety earring backs for keeping fish hook earrings from falling out.  If she places one of those behind the slippery screw-ons, she may have just found a perfect solution. 


See?  Sort of a happy ending.  I know, this was not an extraordinary or profound story involving the loss and recovery of one's sanity or happiness, nor is it a dramatic or gut-wrenching loss and found anecdote of a loved one.  This loss is almost inconsequential.  But sometimes the little things in life makes it possible for us to accomplish grander things in life.  LIKE FINDING A SOLUTION TO MAKE SURE SCREW-ON EARRING BACKS NEVER UNSCREW THEMSELVES EVER AGAIN.

So, Lost, and Found, together you make us realize how important our prized possessions are to us.  Losing stuff means parting with things unexpectedly, and finding them again means getting a second chance at keeping them.  Second chances don't always come by easily.  And when I'm given third and fourth chances, I know that -- in the words of Maria (soon to be) Von Trappe-- I must have done something good.


P.S. UPDATE: Here is a picture of the earring safety back.  She may be able to rest easy now, since they work really well!


  1. i'll never take your earrings for granted again!!

  2. Haha, You and me, both! I just need to get to Michael's to get those rubber safety backs soon...

  3. Ohhhh how frustrating. I have earrings that I wear almost constantly, and I check them all the time. I've been lucky not to lose them, but I'm always so paranoid. YAY to finding the back and retaining the earrings through it all :)

  4. Michelle, I got those safety backs yesterday. All 200 of them in a box for $2. I'll be happy to give you several pairs when I see you for GSC? They are working really well! I might actually be able to ease off checking them so often!

  5. I was dining at a dock restaurant (I did not say "dockside". I mean a restaurant situated on top of a dock, over the water.) when I noticed one of the little diamonds in my wedding band was missing. Everyone at the table (well, just my mean mother-in-law) scoffed at me for bothering to look, but I found it, on the edge of the high chair. One more inch and it would have been fish food!

  6. Anyway, when we were moving into our house from my hubby's condo a few months after we got married, I turned the place upside-down looking for the strand of pearls my grandmother gave me when I graduated high school. The last time I remembered seeing them was the day of my wedding at my parents' house. I gave up looking and beating myself up over my carelessness about four years later, only a few short weeks before my mother lost her watch. In trying to make her feel better, I told her about my lost pearls and how I regretted wasting all of that mental energy on fretting over a THING, and told her that sometimes we just lose things (or things leave us); and it doesn't make us bad or even irresponsible.

    Coincidentally, a few days later, my dad found a string of pearls and asked my Mom about them. (He had squirreled them away in a bag in his closet when I gave them to him for SAFEKEEPING the night after our wedding.) He gave them to me as a gift and I was so surprised. I'm sure I appreciated them even more than I did when my late grandmother gave them to me 20 years earlier.

    They are a way for me to remember my grandmother, but they were also a way for my grandmother to express her love for me and pride in me. I believe that's why they were lost and found -- so I could feel her expression of love again. And I really don't think I would have been open to that message if I was still fretting over it. I would have given myself too much credit for finding them, just as I had blamed myself for losing them.

    Sometimes we need to let the universe do its thing. This applies to lost articles and mothers-in-law.

  7. Elaine, That last sentence? LOVE it. What a beautiful story about a strand of pearls and your reflection on its "lost and found." I can imagine the "warm fuzzies" you felt the first *and* second time you received it as a gift. I am glad that they are safely back in your possession, as I am that diamond in your ring (what *are* the odds that it didn't become fish food?). I need to heed those words: let the universe do its thing, and not fret as much (because I am oh so good at fretting).