Sunday, January 21, 2024

Lost and Found

Working the information desk at the library and a patron asks if there are any reading glasses in the Lost and Found. Let me check, I say, and I pull out the bin and sift through the left-behind winter hats and gloves, a dropped baby shoe, a nice pen. 

I don't see any reading glasses, I say. When do you think you might've left them here?

Oh, I didn't leave them here, she says. I forgot mine at home.

It takes me a minute to process this. The patron wants to use someone else's lost reading glasses? 

Is this...allowed? It doesn't feel allowed. Regardless, there are no left-behind reading glasses in the bin. The patron is bummed, and she jokes about how blind she is without her glasses and how there's no way she can interpret the form she needs to fill out and fax. She'll have to drive home. 

I'm still stuck on the part where she asked me to rummage through the Lost and Found, but I'm also sympathetic. I can't see without my reading glasses either. In fact, I keep them perched on my head, always. I slip them off my head and offer them to the patron, and she is delighted. I am delighted by her delight, while at the same time, wondering if I am a fool and what if I forget to ask for them back and when I do, should I sanitize them? 

I don't know why I'm thinking about this. 

It's the middle of the night, and I am sleeping on the couch downstairs with the dog who is sick. Correction: I am trying to sleep. Instead, I am writing this post in my head and listening to the dog being sick. Her stomach has the gurglies. Something she ate yesterday? Who knows. Let's just say she has a sensitive digestive system. I've already let her outside once (at 2 am), watching from the back door as she desperately raced out across the snow. It's sixteen degrees. 

And then we're back inside, both warming up. The last time I slept downstairs was May 2020. I didn't get much sleep then either. Our daughter, who had been studying abroad and stuck there during the early part of the pandemic, had just flown home, and my husband and I were dutifully following all of the rules on the CDC website. Basically: Treat her as if she is teeming with a virus that could kill us all. 

For the required two weeks quarantine, we gave her the upstairs--bedroom, bathroom-- and moved ourselves into the living room downstairs. I left her meals on a tray at the top of the stairs. I wore a mask and gloves when I did her laundry. During the day, we took walks or sat outside on the patio, six feet apart. On rainy days, we facetimed. The two weeks lasted forever and then it was over. We gave her long-awaited hugs and lived together in our bubble for a year. A great gift, I understand now, despite all of the fear and craziness of the time. 

The patron gives me back my glasses without my having to ask, and I wipe them off with hand sanitizer, no big deal. A few weeks later, down in the Youth Department, I lose them. They must have fallen off somewhere when I was shelving. I have to pull holds and I can't read the tiny call numbers on the list. A little boy sees me crawling around looking and starts crawling around looking too. 

In a few minutes another little boy joins him, and then, both of the boys' mothers, another child and their nanny, a whole silly group of us on our knees, peering between the shelves and under the furniture. 

What I'm trying to say made more sense to me in the middle of the night, the dog's stomach rumbling in the dark, my worries keeping me from sleep. The large and small ways we try to help. The gifts we share with one another. All of our foolish and lovely gestures.   


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