My life occasionally produces a crescendo of Bulgaaaaria, even though I check my possessions obsessively, even though I unpack and repack my bag every day, and even though I have a special home for every object.
I lost a beautiful, treasured, fountain pen two weeks ago and couldn’t find it anywhere. I misplaced my teaching binder in the school yesterday and had to teach my practicum class without my lesson plan. When I got home, I realized I had lost the expensive AirPods my husband gave me. Those are just the things I know I lost. They’re all in Bulgaaaria.
This is why I can’t have nice thi–.
Yeah, right. If I believed that, I’d be sadder than I already am. Getting rid of things, refusing to accumulate anything, is still doing without. Minimalism and tiny houses do not protect one against losing things; you’re just trying to lose them yourself so you have some control over the process. So I keep acquiring the occasional nice thing and enjoying it while it’s with me. But the Lost Things are always with me (in the Bulgaria of the mind). When I lose those fugitive objects, those disappeared possessions, they gain a transcendent reality they didn’t have before. The fountain pen, the binder, the earbuds, they all sit in my brain, reminding me that they are Somewhere Obvious. They become more solid, less transient, than they were when they were close to hand. Everywhere I look, I keep expecting them to be in front of me, sometimes for years (I have been losing things, over and over again, all my life).
Less often, I experience a crescendo of finding things, and it’s almost worse.
After I taught my class, I went and looked one more time. The binder? It was sitting out in the open, in a room where I had looked for it twice. Last night, when I was changing for bed, the AirPods were on the floor under my desk chair last night, where I swear I had searched over and over again. And the fountain pen just now fell out of my knitting bag, right spang on its point. (But I straightened it out. It’s writing just fine, unlike the other fountain pen I broke last week).
You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I’ve been this way all my life. But sometimes it all just jams together, as if the universe was a teacher waiting impatiently (and disbelievingly) for me to find my homework where I swear I just put it.
Yes, I call the phenomenon “Bulgaria.” Pronounced “Bulgaaaaaaria.” Don’t ask.*
*Oh, all right. I went to Varna, Bulgaria for a fencing tournament a few years back. The airline misplaced my fencing bag, so I had to buy some equipment in order to compete. (Not much, because I rightfully mistrust airlines and so most of what was in my bag aside from the things I can’t carry on, like sabres, was my clothing). I didn’t examine the equipment I bought, and ended up fencing the entire tournament with a left-handed sabre (there is a difference, but obviously not enough to be obvious right away until you’ve used it for several touches and can’t return it). And with my friend Kate, because I had no clothes aside from what I was wearing, I went out and purchased what seemed to be the only pair of underpants in my size in the entire town. Somewhere between the store and my hotel roomm I lost the underwear I had just bought. My friend was amazed. “Welcome to my life,” I said, and burst into tears. She cheered me up by piling up shampoo bottles and pretending they were doing synchronized swimming, but all I have to do sometimes is say “Bulgaaaaria” and it all rushes back.**
**The fencing bag arrived several days later, after I had competed, in fact the day before I had to leave. This is normal. It’s not even Bulgaaaaria. It’s airlines. If I have someone to blame besides myself, it’s not Bulgaria, even if it was in Bulgaria that it happened.***
***I’m supposed to be doing something else entirely right now. My desk is an utter mess, and one of my defenses against Bulgaaaria is to tidy everything up and put it away at least once a day, even if I’m going to get it all out again, but that fountain pen leapt out of my bag when I dumped it out, like a porpoise springing a surprise birthday party on me, and I got completely derailed.†
†Have you seen my senior citizen bus pass anywhere? That, I think, is well and truly lost. I’m going to have to call and get it replaced, the way I replaced my debit card twice in the past six months. Luckily, they let me show my driver’s license on the bus instead.††
††This will result in a lost driver’s license. I know it. I lose names too. And I can’t match them to faces. My husband knows everyone. I know no one. This is not the result of advanced age. It’s the result of being me.‡
‡I am right now repressing the urge to get up and go look for that bag with the Bulgarian underwear, which must be somewhere. I know I didn’t put it down anywhere.‡‡
‡‡UPDATE: I found my bus pass! It was in my wallet after all! In a completely wrong place, where I obviously put it to be REALLY SECURE. Now where did I put my glasses?