Columns / Discourse / October 30, 2008

Losing my keys

People get upset at me for showing up late to places I say I’m going to be. If you tell me to meet you in the library so we can finish the project that was supposed to be done last Wednesday, I will inevitably show up eleven minutes late, red and flustered beyond reasonability. It will be impossible to get me to focus on the task at hand within the time we have allotted ourselves to work, you will leave frustrated, muttering about your GPA, and I will have lost a friend. These are the pains I must go through, because every single time I try to leave my dorm, I undergo an existential crisis. I cannot find my keys.

It’s not that I think the act of losing my keys, in and of itself, makes me special. I realize that most people lose their keys. They are small, they tend not to make sudden movements, and your friends can’t call them. It is a familiar nuisance, so common that to claim it as the topic of a short expository newspaper column might come off as passé. I may as well be writing about missing socks in the dryer, or possibly airline food, if it still existed. Thankfully, I am not writing about the act, but rather the process. When I cannot find my keys, I know that ahead of me lies a long and arduous mental trek.

Calm down, I tell myself. So they weren’t within your immediate reach when you swept your arm across the dresser. You probably threw them somewhere after you got in last night. Are they on the desk, under these massive piles of crinkled hand-outs, torn textbooks, and major declaration forms? No, although I think I found the ID I lost last week. Maybe under the bed, next to the broken Christmas lights and bed lofting apparatuses? No, and usually when I look there I am rewarded with a pencil-sized splinter of wood in my palm. After scanning the room and doing a quick sweep of the suite, I meditate on my actions of the previous day.

Where did I go yesterday? Class, food, Target. Oh, maybe I left them in Mary’s car! No, because I had to give them to her so she could get some beef jerky and come back upstairs. Wait, was that before or after I went to the lab? Did I drop them in some sort of acidic liquid? Surely I would remember that. What pair of pants was I wearing yesterday? Oh, that’s right, there’s no way to answer that question, because I wore a million different pairs of pants yesterday. Why do I change clothes so often? Seriously, is it impossible to keep my pants on for longer than half an hour?

This is where it starts to get ugly. I am reminded of everything I have done leading up to this instance of my lost keys. Maybe if I had not stayed up so late playing The Sims in seventh grade, I would have realized that Mark was trying to ask me out, and then I would have gotten better grades in high school because Mark was always such a good student, and then I would have been pre-med, and I never would have tried to put mayonnaise on my sandwich for fear of clogging my arteries, and then the condiments would never have stained the first pair of pants I put on yesterday, that had deep pockets so I could have just left my keys in there instead of taking them out and chucking them at squirrels or whatever it is that I’ve been doing with my [your favorite expletive] keys! Am I even sure that I ever had keys? What evidence is there that these so-called “keys” exist? Why should I be worried about something I can’t prove exists? What’s the point of anything? What does God look like?

And of course, they’re in my backpack.

What a let-down.

Rachel Perez

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