If only it was only eight.
It’s eight – times something. Eighty? Eight thousand? Eighty-eight thousand? That depends on if you count car keys and wallet as two things, left behind regularly, or one for every time. I wouldn’t want to do that math.
If God had a cosmic lost-and-found bin, even The Great I Am would assess me a storage fee.
I’ll forego listing the plastic dinosaurs I buried beside my house just before dad put on a sidewalk, or the UNC Charlotte sweatshirt left on the bus in Louisville. Same, too, for the stormtrooper Tervis, the actual stormtrooper from my youth, a few tons of innocence …
1. My Rockies cap
You know when something has only one purpose, fits into one divot in this universe? That’s my head, to this cap. No, I didn’t lose my head. (Not this time). I set my battered, weathered, faded-to-gray-from-black Rockies cap on the trunk lid while pumping gas …
And my signature lid is now part of the universe (or crammed in a landfill in North Mecklenburg County, N.C., USA.
2. Piece of a race car
When racing was cool but not Hollywood, I covered NASCAR for the Hickory Daily Record. A local guy made the Grand National race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. He turned a few laps on the quad oval track before some ruffian rubbed him into the wall.
A rear quarter panel flew off his Ford. A track worker collected it and tossed it in a simple Rubbermaid trash bin. I walked right over like I owned the place, jerked out the fiberglass souvenir and tossed it in the bed of my truck, which was parked in the infield.
I left that relic behind on the sports desk when I left for the Asheville Citizen-Times.
In junior high, I’d determined I would become a baritone sax player in a studio band. My new high school didn’t have jazz band, though. I picked Astronomy as the default elective course, only no one else signed up for it, so the school cancelled it.
They stuck me in a class – Intro to Journalism. The rest was low-key history.
4. My heart
I leave it places, in settings and with people I encounter. Charleston and Cancun. Asheville and Nashville. I feel like a mashup of playdoh colors, and in many places, I leave a swath of me but not without taking with me something I loved in that new place.
5. Being a son
My father’s death was, I recognized immediately, the most permanent event of my life. All else is impermanent, painful as it might feel to consider losing status as a mate or father. Since, distance has grown between my mom and me, too. I feel like son to none.
6. The newspaper life
I still write and work in the biz, but as a freelancer. It allows me to tell a story, paint an image (in 400-600 words) without working every holiday, every weekend. My former career was also the life force that destroyed my pursuit of happiness in many ways.
I’ve emerged sharpened, yet softened.
7. An entire stack of cones
It was a majestic tower of training cones, color coded, probably the most orderly manifestation of my life at the time. Someone swiped it, at a home training session. Know what? I now have a new collection, gathered over time and in desperation.
I’ll gather again if these disappear.
8. An expectation of permanence
I’ve cleaned house, and deleted contacts. I’ve stood firm, and stayed positive. I’ve learned to love the moment with beauty I’ve been lucky enough to encounter. I’ve learned that even the darkest days will pass. The brightest ones, too. I try not to let them pass quickly.
I’m working toward an indifference toward perception of me, or how I’ve failed, or opportunities lost.
It’s what we do now, and next, that carries more impact.
That’s something I hope to never leave behind.