Any of my friends or family members will tell you that I am one of the most organized people they know. My closets are immaculate, with clothes neatly sorted by purpose and color. I make lists of "things to do" each week and find great satisfaction in checking things off as they are completed. A place for everything and everything in it's place. That is my mantra.
People lose things every day. But I have never lost anything. Until a few weeks ago when I lost my ring. It was a simple white gold dome-shaped ring, with three little ridges in it. My parents bought it for me and it was very special because my Mom and I went to the store together to pick it out. It was one of those pieces of jewelry that you could wear anywhere. And I did. I would wear it to work, or to the bar on a Friday night, or to the mall on a Saturday afternoon. It had become so much a part of my standard wardrobe that it sometimes looked strange to see my hand without it.
The worst part is that I know exactly how and where I lost it. My hands have been really dry this winter, so I have been using a lot of hand cream. On this particular morning, I took off my ring and put it in my coat pocket so I could rub on some hand cream in the car before work. Later that evening I was walking back to my car in the parking lot and I took my gloves out of my pocket. My ring must have slipped out.
In retrospect, I remember hearing a clang on the ground and I may have briefly checked my key chain to see if something had fallen off. I had forgotten the ring was in my pocket. So I just shrugged it off and got into my car and drove away.
I didn't immediately realize that my ring was lost. The first time I noticed my ring was missing was probably a few days later. It wasn't sitting in the little tray on my dresser like it usually was. But I had been staying a lot at the Boy's house so I figured I had left it there. That weekend, I hung out with the Boy and looked all around his place. It wasn't there. I came home and checked my overnight bag and the various purses I had used over the past week. I even checked all of my coat pockets.
And then I had a flashback to that day in the parking lot and I realized it was my ring that I had heard fall to the ground. Suddenly, I felt a sense of panic. My favorite ring was lost and there was no guarantee that I could get it back. And it really started to bother me. It is a horrible feeling to lose something, especially for a person like me.
I have been on a crusade for the last few weeks to try and find my ring. I posted a notice on our internal message board at the office. I have visited the lost and found in our building at least twice. The lost and found is a shoebox in a little drawer at the building's security desk. The guard searched through the box full of other people's lost earrings, gloves and other random items. There was even a lost ring in the shoebox. But it wasn't my ring.
Every day when I leave work, the others hurry past me as I walk slowly and purposefully through the parking lot. I stare at the ground looking for any shiny objects that glisten in the fading light of day. I keep looking, despite the fact that the snow plows have been through at least a dozen times in the past few weeks and there are huge sewer grates where my ring could have easily fallen and disappeared forever.
Somehow this lost ring has become a symbol of other things I have lost in my life. Like the Canadian who up and disappeared on me, the friends at my last job whom I've never spoken with with after making a hasty and unanticipated exit last year, and the man I loved with all my heart who slowly slipped away from me after his stroke.
I keep thinking that if I could just find that ring it would set my world right again, and maybe I wouldn't feel so lost.
And I find myself re-living that moment when I pulled my glove out of my pocket and heard that little clang as my ring hit the ground. I keep wishing I would have stopped and looked down to see where that noise had come from, instead of dismissing it so abruptly. If only I had not been so distracted or in a hurry to get on with my day. But we all know that you cannot change the past. What's done is done. And your only choice is to accept it and move on. I guess that principle can apply to a lot more things in life than a lost ring.
I realize that my ring is probably gone, but that doesn't stop me from looking down at the ground every night as I walk through the parking lot. Just in case it was pushed into the curb by the snow plows and will miraculously reveal itself when the spring thaw comes.
Mostly, I keep on looking because regret is something I can live with, but hope is something I can't live without.