By Hannah Reich Berman
Several weeks ago, I went to put on a pair of my favorite earrings and discovered that they were not in their usual place. I searched everywhere. I started with the jewelry box in my bedroom. From there I went through all the top drawers in my dresser, thinking that maybe the last time I had worn them I might have taken them off and dropped them into a drawer by mistake. But I had not.
I didn’t stop with the drawers. My next move, one with which I am, unfortunately, all too familiar, was to push the dresser away from the wall. Maybe they had rolled off the dresser and fallen behind it. No luck there, either. The only thing on the floor behind and under the dresser was dust.
The earrings were inexpensive costume jewelry that I had bought from a small kiosk in the lobby of a local mall many years ago. That they weren’t costly was irrelevant. The point was that I loved them and I even liked the clasp. Inexpensive earrings often come with long flexible wires and little rubber discs to hold the wires in place. But, because those rubber discs are tiny, they often slip from my fingers. They’re easily replaceable, but that too is irrelevant. My earrings were MIA and I wanted them back.
I told myself to give up the search, but I couldn’t. Whenever I thought of them, I searched again, even going through every room in my house and looking in places that I knew they could not possibly be. It occurred to me that maybe I had taken them off while I was in the kitchen, and maybe they had fallen into one of the drawers there. They had not.
When they didn’t turn up anywhere, I had a bad thought: maybe I had taken them off and absentmindedly thrown them into the garbage. I knew that was a possibility because once, many years ago, I had removed a ring and tossed it into the kitchen garbage pail. But in that instance, my mind snapped to attention several hours later and I actually recalled doing it and was able to retrieve the ring. But this time, I remembered doing no such thing. Upon advice from my daughter, I went through the pockets of every coat and jacket I own. But that too proved to be an exercise in futility. I had to resign myself to the fact that the earrings were gone! And so I did—but only briefly. My resignation didn’t last long.
Weeks later I would still occasionally hunt for them. I went through all my handbags. Why they would be in a handbag I didn’t know, but still I hunted. Again, no dice. It took time to sink in but eventually I accepted the fact that the earrings were gone forever. It certainly wasn’t the most valuable item I had ever lost, and I told myself to forget about it. This time I was more successful in forgetting about them. But the mind can play strange tricks, so every now and then I would reach for them in their old spot. And when I remembered that they were gone, I would miss them all over again.
In time, I began to play the blame game. Maybe it wasn’t my fault. Maybe I didn’t accidentally toss them out. Maybe I never misplaced them at all. There was someone who cleaned house for me, someone I had let go during that same time frame; maybe she had snatched them. Why, among all the pretty earrings that I have, she would have chosen this unassuming pair, I didn’t know. But I had to blame someone. They weren’t brightly colored or particularly flashy, and they certainly didn’t look like anything someone would find worth taking. But one never knows. While it gave me no comfort to think that they had been stolen, it did give me some closure. They were gone, and gone is gone.
Early on in my search, I put money in my tzedakah box and recited the following: “Rabbi Binyamin said, ‘All are in the presumed status of blind people, until the Holy One, Blessed Be He, enlightens their eyes.’” This is something that people sometimes recite in the hope of finding a lost article. It had worked for me once before when I misplaced my wristwatch, but it didn’t work this time. The earrings still didn’t turn up. But I didn’t stop there. My philosophy has always been “any port in a storm,” so I called a very superstitious friend, a Christian girl. She said that a prayer to Saint Anthony would do it, but I told her that was not an option and asked her for a solution that had nothing to do with religion or saints. Unruffled, she came up with the following two remedies for lost items. One was to take a tissue, tie it in a knot, and just leave it on the table; the second was to turn a glass upside down and leave it that way. She was convinced that if I did those things the earrings would turn up. They did not.
After that, I did truly stop searching. Occasionally, when accessory-shopping, a flash of memory would break through and I would look for a similar pair in a store. But that was all. And I never found anything that even remotely resembled the ones I had lost.
And then, one day, miraculously, they reappeared. It happened only when I had succeeded in accepting the fact that they were gone. They were in the pocket of a zippered hoodie that I rarely wear. There was a chill in my house and as I would be leaving soon, it made no sense to push up the thermostat. So I reached for the hoodie, thinking I would wear it for a few minutes. I have no idea why I slipped my hand into the pocket, but I did, and my fingers touched something solid. Could it be? I held my breath in anticipation, removed what was in the pocket, and there they were! My long-lost earrings. They are worth less than $20, but at that moment if I had found $1,000 I couldn’t have been happier. And just as that ridiculous thought crossed my mind, I suddenly heard Hubby in my mind. He said, “Oy, nothing has changed—finance never was your strong suit.”
Happily, my former cleaning helper never knew that I had suspected her of taking them. I should be ashamed of myself. And I am—sort of. That’s the way it is. v
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-902-3733.