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I lost it in the hotel closet (or the cab or the plane)

sarasota bbWe had just settled into our airy retreat at The Cypress B& B in Sarasota (think antiques, hardwood and a prime view of sailboats skimming the bay) when I realized it had happened again. I had arrived somewhere lovely minus something essential. My favourite jeans, which fit me like no other jeans on earth.

Muttering, I unpacked and repacked my suitcase. Sighing, I clattered through closets and drawers. When there was nowhere left to look, I exclaimed to my husband, in a tone that would not be out of place at a funeral rite involving the rending of garments, “Dammit, I can’t find my jeans! I wore them on the plane and now they’ve vanished into thin air!”

My husband has no truck with this thin-air business. He does not believe that a hole in the universe is swallowing my stuff. “Your jeans are either in the hotel in Coral Gables,” he said, “or they’re in the guest bedroom at Brendan and Anne’s.”

I rang the hotel: sorry, no jeans yet, call tomorrow when the cleaning shift changes. I rang Anne, who got down on her knees and checked under the bed: no luck, perhaps the housekeeper tidied them. Bottom line: there had to be a hole. If not in the universe, then inside my middle-aged brain.

Once upon a time I was capable of trundling a bagful of gear from place to place without losing so much as a lipstick. Then I reached the age of inattention, and my inner ditz began to scatter traces of herself on the road. A cosmetic bag on the back of a door in Winnipeg, a jacket in a closet at a hiking spa in Utah, a nearly new cashmere sweater in Las Vegas, God knows precisely where. It’s enough to make me wonder, as I pack to get away from it all, what will get away from me on this trip and whether half a dozen phone calls plus a FedEx bill can ever get it back.

The missing jeans had seen better days. They used to be black before my washer gradually reduced them to an indeterminate charcoal, flecked with lint from a pulverized Kleenex. Anna Wintour wouldn’t deign to give such jeans to her housekeeper. Paris Hilton would have scorned them even when they were new. If I had a teenage daughter, she’d roll her mascara’d eyes at the very sight of those mom-ish, sorry-ass jeans. Said my husband, “Don’t you think the maid might have pitched them?”

If she had, I wouldn’t blame her. Still I placed two more calls to the hotel. What I craved was not so much the jeans as the sense of control that comes with knowing my possessions are right where they belong. The older I get, the more I cling to this illusion. If I can’t have the blissful, out-cold sleep of an adolescent and the knees of a 35-year-old, if my friends can’t live forever, then can’t I at least hold onto a scrap of old denim?

Off I went in search of new denim at Sawgrass Mills, the Everest of discount malls with more than 400 outlets all flaunting their bargains. I could have sworn I needed oxygen after fighting my way through its vast avenues but my bounty included a snazzy pair of Ralph Lauren jeans and coordinating linen jacket (retail price: $1500) for $104.

Back home in Toronto, I couldn’t wait to hang up my loot. Hey, what was that in the corner of the closet? It couldn’t be. And yet it was. My black jeans. Aglow with relief, I thought I’d read a few more chapters of Beautiful Children, the novel that had gripped me on the plane. Now, where was the Liberty tote bag that held my onboard diversions (books, magazine, new iPod)? Not in its accustomed place beside the front door. Or next to the bed, or on the kitchen chair. Omigod. I had left it in the airline limo.

I have the good fortune to be married to a guy who saves the limo receipts. “You want Airline Limousine, driver 171,” he said. Driver 171 had left my precious cargo in the airport lost and found. And so, after spending the entire next morning on a tedious schlep I could not have been more grateful to make, I have restored cohesion to my world. Everything is present and accounted for. At least until it’s time to hit the road.

I’ve written before about what it means to lose a treasured possession. Click here to read about the day my son lost his stuffed mouse on the subway. On another note, I can vouch for the innovative cocktails, the delectable breakfasts and the warm welcome at The Cypress. As for the wardrobe management, that’s entirely up to you.

Posted by Rona

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