There I stood, with arms so tired they felt like jelly, bags of fruits and vegetables (and a pound of chorizo) lying on the pavement at my feet, searching my pockets for keys. It shouldn’t have taken me so long to conclude I had lost them at the Farmer’s Market on the Saturday before Memorial Day. But I think after the third false alarm caused by a tube of lipstick that just might…no, not my keys, I turned around resolute to wade back into the crowd with plastic bag handles cutting into my arms–looking for a set of keys I could have dropped anywhere. I stopped to ask the soap guy. And he began to tell me a story about a woman who lost her keys two weeks ago only to find them in the ignition of her running car. As he replaced his earbuds and waved goodbye, after this less than reassuring story, he said, “They’ll turn up. Don’t panic.”
I headed across the parking lot to another building to begin my search, checked in with two vendors (one who searched among some okra), and then overheard a woman, standing ten feet away say, “How could someone be so silly and lose their keys in a place like this?” Another woman returned, “I don’t know. I just laid ‘em right here on top of the danishes. Whoever lost ‘em will need them before they can leave, that’s for sure.” I walked over, identified the keys, picked them up, and said (quite anti-climatically), “These are mine.” Three sets of eyes met, the awkwardness built, I mumbled an embarrassed, “Thanks,” and walked off smiling to buy some blueberries. Panic had never set in, but sheepishness was in full force.
Finding lost things provides a sense of relief. It’s like a small-scale rescue. Like the unripe peaches I bought–blown down too early by the storm and found by a farmer who wanted to rescue a bit of his crop. Like stumbling upon rhubarb, which will later turn into some beautiful rhubarb crisp and result in a phone call to my grandmother. Like seeing the lost child run toward her mother after their observable ninety second separation. Lost things returned to their proper place–redeemed, rescued, reclaimed.