K.S. ANTHONY: Lost and Found

19 June 2021

Lost and Found

(Originally written May 2010)

Je ne peut pas dormir.

I laid awake, despite my burning eyes and aching muscles, and listened to the wash of traffic outside, hoping to smell the sea carried in over salt-thick screens on soft wind. For a moment, I did. 

I realized that my bed is positioned in my bedroom in nearly the exact way it was when I was a child--feet towards the closet, door to my right, window to my left--so for a moment, I felt like I was in a place that hasn't existed for the last 10 years or so. 

I don't remember the last time I slept in what I thought of as my room. Even my memories of the time I spent in the house that was rebuilt on that property are beginning to fade. I wonder what is already lost to memory. I wonder what I have forgotten. I wonder what will be the next to go. Faces. Names. Old phone numbers. Bits of poems. Voices. First kisses. Last kisses. 

These are things that matter to me: not the faceless voices of spouting rhetoric, not the saviors that I never asked for, not the salvation I don't want, and not the revolution or the bumper sticker that goes with it. 

Give me the feeling of wet sand and cool water and the windward breeze that makes the jungle whisper. 

Give me the smell of a gas stove and honeysuckle and roses in the Oakland hills. 

Give me the things that fade; the things that we pretend will last forever: friendships, loved ones, lost ones. 

Give me the things that slip into the vacuum of time. 

When I was about 3 years old, my mother gave me a coffee can filled with cats-eye marbles for Christmas. I was less interested in the marbles than the can, which she had decorated with contact paper and a ribbon. I liked the sound that the marbles made: it sounded uniform, neat, resonant: not at all chaotic or disorderly. It reminded me of people walking or of gravel. 

I have not seen marbles like that in at least twenty years. They are somewhere out there. Buried in a yard. Lost in a landfill. Somewhere with a thousand other lost things taken for granted and snuck away by time: letters, pillowcases, paperbacks, wrapping paper. 

School pictures and the day that you were sent off with freshly brushed hair and an order form for 8x10s and wallet sizes. The shirt you wore the first time you fell in love and the day she said she just wanted to be friends. Pieces of jewelry and all the awkward ways that it was given to you. Napkins with traces of lipstick. Phone numbers you wished you had called. Potential lovers, forgotten friends, strangers who stayed strangers. 

Things you are glad to have forgotten. Things you promised you never would forget. 

They are all out there somewhere. And sometimes, as you lie awake at 2am, they find their way back to you in the soft glow of a streetlight and the faintest scent of the perfume of the sea, as perfect as a marble, as perfect as memory: happy to be home again; happy to bring you home again.