Retracing My Steps

Last week I lost something. It was small and relatively valuable to me although it’s worth about $12 intrinsically. I knew that it had fallen out of my purse somewhere the previous day. I was concerned enough about finding it that I decided to retrace my steps from that day, and see if it turned up. (Spoiler alert; It didn’t.)

The first step was to make a list of the places I had been the day before. I knew I’d only been to three places; the bookstore, RiteAid to get some supplies for the store, and Silk Moon. Even though I knew I’d only been to three places, I sat down to make a list anyway. I do that sometimes, particularly when I’m upset because it grounds me.

So, bookstore. I called, they searched diligently, and it wasn’t there. Silk Moon searched round the register and in my dressing room – nothing. RiteAid had a voice mail menu, so I decided to just walk down there. Looking at the list, I remembered that I had stopped for coffee. That was a fourth place. And, I’d had lunch at the Thai restaurant – that was a fifth.

I’d also gone to visit my mother in law. That was a sixth stop. (No luck. And yes, I did search my car, and no luck there either.)

I walked up to the coffee place and asked if anyone had found the object. No one had. While I was getting coffee –because, why not? – I remembered that the previous day, I had gone into Fiesta Market and bought some cherries to take to the store. That was a seventh place, up from the “only three” I had so clearly remembered.

So, as I said, I never found my thing. It was a flash drive. It was a bad weekend for me in some ways because I had two original documents that I’d just started working on, stored only on that drive. However, that isn’t really the point of this post. (I was able to reproduce and/or re-create everything on the drive except one thing, and next week I will probably start on that, from Word One.) It also isn’t meant as a cautionary tale, although I did learn something about flash drives. They function best as brief cases, not back-up devices. Oh, and, Note to Self, put them in the zippered compartment in the purse.

The point of this post is memory. I sat down convinced that I was going to have to check three places for my lost thing. I ended up checking seven. How could I have missed four? Or, to reverse that, why did I remember three so well? Well, two of those, coffee and Fiesta, are routine things, places I go nearly every day. Visiting my MIL is routine, too. The bookstore is scheduled, but special. The run to RiteAid was out of my routine at the bookstore, too, so it floated up close to the top of my memory.

The Thai restaurant is a mystery. I had been looking forward to going there, actually, which should have put it in the Top of Memory category. However, I read most of the way though lunch… so maybe my memory captured the words I was reading, not my location? I don’t know.

If I ever do write a mystery where the detective is retracing someone’s steps, I’m going to remember this incident. We forget. That’s important. Also, the act of re-creating a memory sparks other memories; a fact writers and dramatists have known for centuries, and I got to live out last week.

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