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The mortality of objects.

The mortality of objects. published on

I lost my black folding umbrella over the weekend. I think I left it in the soba restaurant at Echigo-Yuzawa. Mom gave it to me for Chrismukkah junior year, so I’ve had it for three and a half years, most of which time it spent in the front pocket of my purse.

It’s strange that it’s gone. I’d never held onto an umbrella that long without breaking or losing it. I’ve forgotten it in restaurants and gone back for it a couple of times. When I saw Obama speak last year, I had to leave it and my nalgene with security, in a cardboard box full of other umbrellas and nalgenes, but they were still there when I went back to pick them up after. This made me feel optimistic. The purse pocket stretched out to accommodate it, so it looks pregnant. I’m not in mourning for it, but it’s been within a few feet of me for half my waking hours the last few years. It feels a little like when I get my hair trimmed. The loss is not significant, but it is obtrusive.

When I realized it was gone Monday morning, I went out and bought a new one. The new one is beige and was 490 yen.

Some other objects that occasionally shock me by their absence recently:

* My purse. I bought it on eBay a couple months before I got the umbrella, after a very long and careful search for a hard leather bag of certain very specific (large) dimensions. I finally had to retire it a couple of weeks ago, when the dye or something on the strap melted in the heat and left a brown stain on the shoulder of my new blouse. I feel cruel when I see it sitting in the bottom of the closet, for abandoning it; and also cowardly, for not getting rid of it.

(The material is still pretty tough. Can you refinish a purse?)

* My iPod. Received for Chrismukkah 2004, broke a few months ago. I’m going to try installing a new battery in it (I already have the battery), but I am not hopeful. I’m using the cell phone instead, which is fine, but it feels strange that the thing playing music in my pocket is lumpy, not smooth.

* My desktop. Received for Chrismukkah/birthday/something 2005. I reformatted it and gave it away last fall, because I couldn’t bring it to Japan, and it wasn’t doing any good in my room at home. Its desktop background was always a specific splash page I like from the Haibane Renmei manga; when I reformatted it, I considered making that the background to the current computer, but it felt sacrilegious.

* The ugly brown and beige blanket. Mom and Dad bought it on a road trip when we were kids, and it moved into my room sometime in high school. It’s still in my room at home, but I decided not to take it with me to Japan this time – blankets are too big for luggage, and they’re cheap. Because my body has had seven or eight years to get accustomed to this blanket as being The Perfect Weight And Texture, I cannot get used to my current ugly blue blanket.

Things I still have:

* An orange gris-gris that is alleged to make the bearer organized, which has been riding in my purses for either four-and-a-half or five-and-a-half years. I got it at the (a?) Voodoo Museum in New Orleans in December of either 2003 or 2004. It’s long since stopped smelling like oranges. I think you’re supposed to replace them after a year, but it never worked anyway.

* The doll backpack, slightly larger than Barbie-sized, which I’ve been keeping my sanitary supplies in since I first developed the need to carry sanitary supplies, and which at some point acquired a mysterious purple stain. I think the pouch is probably the item that has spent the most time in my physical presence the past eleven years. I probably would grieve somewhat if I lost it. I don’t think I ever found a doll the right size to wear it.

* My copy of Song for the Basilisk. I got it in 2002 or early 2003, I think. It’s got a very pretty Kinuko Craft cover, and I have read it about thirty times and it has spent more time in my purse than any other book I own. I forgot it under my chair at college orientation, but the Dean of Students found it and gave it back to me – she was very interested in the cover, and said she’d read it. I don’t know if she did. Somehow, I’d never gotten it wet or torn it or otherwise majorly damaged it until Sunday, when I managed to fold the front cover in half. My mind is now attempting to retcon the past so that it has always been folded.