When I head out in the early morning, I appear not unlike the “Wreck of the Hesperus” (look it up….Longfellow reference). I don’t attempt to overthink my mission which is to not go back to bed, and just get up and go for a walk. My only concession to myself is that I always feel as though I should wear earrings. Something unkempt about naked earlobes. I don’t pretend to have much fashion sense at that hour, or any other hour, if I am truthful. However, taking the song “you’re never fully dressed without a smile”to a different level, I wear earrings. Imagine my horror when I came home, looked in the mirror, and discovered that I only had one earring. I left with two. Of that I am quite sure. I had a horrible moment of thinking, that people who were especially friendly this morning, noticed my bare left ear, and thought perhaps I was a pirate. It was a small gold hoop, you know the kind pirates wear. I often wear a striped pirate-like shirt, so it might be possible. I was annoyed as the earrings were part of a pair I was attached to, but clearly not so attached to me. Now one was gone. It was a moment that required a deep sigh and then I put the lone earring away.
Ordinarily,I am not someone who loses things. I’m fairly conscious of where I put things. I have misplaced my share of items over the course of time. I was the daughter of a woman who would call me at different hours of the day and night, who lived about 200 miles away from me, and would ask me if I knew where her keys were. I found that I was quite patient and we would go through the usual places (top of the piano, in her bathrobe, under the mail) until somehow they reappeared. I thought it was a way for us to communicate about nothing but have a moment to talk while she was playing Mr. Watson to my Sherlock Holmes, long distance. The reality was in fact that there was a hook for the keys, which my father installed(perhaps a grandiose term considering it was a family event when we watched him change a light bulb). It was placed close to the front door. She rarely used it.
When I figure out that something is missing I usually attempt to retrace my steps once I have discovered it is gone. Of course the wayward earring could have been anywhere along the two mile route I took in the morning and I was not going to do that part again. I had a moment of thinking perhaps I am wrong….I only wore one earring! But that thought leaves quickly as I remember looking in the mirror one last time before I left the loft. I wasn’t looking to make myself more presentable, but rather make sure I didn’t look too disheveled, even by my own standards. Two earrings looked back at me.
Getting caught in the minutiae once in a while allows me to rethink the bigger issues. I remember going to junior high school and showing up accidentally, with two penny loafers, one black and one brown. Of course, you might have thought that I had two spotlights on my feet that day, because the number of people (13 year olds are so tough) who noticed and felt that they needed to point out that I was wearing “two different colored shoes” grew exponentially as the day wore on. I decided that there was no trap door that I could enter into and disappear into oblivion, which was always my hope when people paid attention to my mess ups. And then, I realized that when I point something out first, the weight of the moment is now lighter, and I am back in control. As an observer of human behavior, mostly mine, I work to figure out what I can do to extricate myself from that feeling of possible, and probable humiliation, that only a 13 year old can feel as deeply, way back when. And my retort to those fashion police adolescents was merely that “I have a matching pair at home”. The next thing that happened is that someone, in fact a few people, laughed with me. I won that round. These are the moments when I realize that I’m not a pirate and if the people around me think based on wearing one earring or two mismatched shoes that they think they know me to be different, then I have achieved my goal. A friend from the past, upon initially meeting me and warning me that he had multiple scars from time in the military, seemed worried that I would think less of him. I just responded, both in kindness and in camaraderie, that some of us have scars on the outside and many of us have scars on the inside and we all just move along. Our self beliefs based on earrings on the outside or scars on the inside should matter only to us.