The sash is another mystery. One time, we had several couples in for dinner, and the idea was that after dinner, we would share a bit of conversation about some item that was important to us when we were “young.” I selected a storybook I had copied when I was six or seven. My husband decided to talk about his Boy Scout sash and the various badges he earned. As a member of the Order of the Arrow, and having been the official bugler at Camp Siwanoy, he had plenty of tales to share. As the doorbell rang, he said, “You answer the door, and I’ll put my sash here, until later.” Later arrived and we began to share our stories, but we could not find the sash. It has yet to appear. We engaged our minds trying to remember just where “here” was. It seems that “here” does not exit. Did the sash end up in the northeast Indiana landfill as well? Was it among a pile of newspapers in the recycling bin? Will it still appear when we clear out a closet? Was it taken away in someone’s coat? Did it sprout wings and fly?
Now there is a watch----- Guga’s watch. I wore it exclusively for forty years. While teaching at a nearby college, I became acquainted with a brilliant young student from Sri Lanka. He had fought through the jungle to get to safety during the Civil War between the Tamils and the Tigers. From Sri Lanka, he made his way to study in America. He was an enthusiastic student, but philosophical. He had lost his father in the War. Then the year he was in my class, he received news about his mother’s death. He eschewed material things and focused his energy on his work and his faith.
Guga (a nickname) was an exceptional student, making A+’s in every course except mine—where he earned a B+. He would have earned an A+ based on the quality of his themes, except he was still struggling with the American language. We often had Guga in our home. A vegetarian, one time he came for Thanksgiving dinner, “eating around the turkey.” (I have no idea if he is still a vegetarian.) Now, as an American citizen, he is doing well, making lots of money, and enjoying the life of a capitalist. His wife and children are blessed. The last time I spoke with him, he said, “I try to keep things in perspective.” Long before he married, he gave me a watch he received as a promotion with some sort of purchase. He said, “I have no need for this; maybe you can use it.” I loved it.
Through the years, my husband replaced the slim black leather band a number of times, replacing it once again in early March. Then ironically on March 7, the very day of Guga’s birthday—I lost the watch. I have searched the house, the car, and retraced my steps to the post office, the grocery store, and to a graphics company, all to no avail. “It’ll show up,” is my current mantra, but will it? Meanwhile, my husband has purchased another watch for me, saying “For you to wear until Guga’s watch shows up.”
How strange it is that items of little monetary value can be sentimentally important? Especially when lost. Yet isn’t that what makes a story, novel, or play memorable? The essence of some experience or relationship that mattered? The loss, the search, the memory?