The next day all I remembered was thinking I’ll never find them here!
I awoke assuming it was probably just a remnant from some dream, and stumbled blearily to the jewelry box. Empty. I wandered around the apartment like a headless ghost searching for its heart.
“I can’t find all of my rings!” I mourned to Janaka. “I may have . . . hidden them from myself.”
“Did you try the bathroom shelves? The living room table? Did you look under the couches?” He looked askance at a slumbering Michael Dracula. “Maybe the kitties got to them.”
Everywhere. The pockets of all the clothing I’d brought. Purses, drawers, ziplock bags for make-up and shampoo. I crawled on the floors and slid my hands into cushions of dust beneath side tables. In the days that followed, I looked underneath every object I picked up, examined every possession as if it were something new: a clue, a code, a breadcrumb to another breadcrumb, a trail. I thought, “if I just see the right thing in the right light, I’ll know.”
Forks jumbled sideways and upside down in the silverware organizer. That painting, slightly askew on the wall. The uplifted corner of the rug. Don’t change anything! I’m trying to remember something.
The clarity of the few seconds preceding my ring set-down have been relived to the point of fiction. Okay, I think. I am pulling each one off my fingers — each ring associated with a different place, a different person, a different memory, each ring a thing I would twist around its finger during times of duress, boredom, the replacement for my “uh”s in speech. This is for high school and the slow, enchanted retail job with the snowy windows. This is for Portland, a mailed birthday present opened in an attic room. This is the stone that symbolically cracked in half. Yes. I am in my pajama pants, wool socks, a long sweatshirt. I take each ring off its finger. I stand there, clinking the rings around in one hand like fated dice, looking deviously around — what room, what room was I in? I’ll never find them here!
“Were . . . you sleepwalking?” Janaka asked. “In your memory, is it dark in the house?”
I closed my eyes and tried to think. “I don’t know,” I said.
It’s been two weeks. Where the rings once were I still twist, shift, clack. I barely even notice their absence any more; this is the new habit, a lot like the old habit. Most days now I forget to look, forget to examine everything, forget that something once so integral to my history is missing. My hands are empty totem poles. The jewelry box contains two barrettes.