It’s winter here, albeit a mercifully mild winter so far. I put on a jacket yesterday, then walked out of the house—right out the front door—without realizing that I’d left a pot of soup simmering on the stove.
My girlfriend noticed the simmering soup. She shut it off and told me about it when I returned.
My response was this: “Really? I did that?” I was surprised, of course, and embarrassed. And I was stubbornly skeptical, too. Even though I knew she was telling me the truth.
My brain is soft and cloudy now. What parts were damaged, and what parts still work, is ambiguous—and will always be ambiguous, thanks to the limited science we have on brains. During my brain’s softest, cloudiest moments, when something vaguely dangerous happens (like leaving soup simmering on the stove), doom settles in, wraps its arms around me, whispers in my ear, This is only the beginning. This is only going to get worse.
I lost my cellphone in San Francisco in 2015. (Note: Losing your cellphone is the technological equivalent of losing your own butthole. You didn’t love it—you didn’t hate it, either—but you can’t really live without it.)
I lost a Visa card in San Francisco in 2016. (Note: San Francisco is the place I go to lose things, apparently.) I remember putting the Visa card in a place that was somewhat odd—so odd, I recall thinking, that I was certain I’d never forget it was there. Turned out to be “so odd” that I couldn’t remember putting it there at all. I never found it. I left the Visa account open for a few days after that, to see if any mysterious charges appeared. If it was stolen, then at least I’d know what happened to it; I’d have resolution. No charges ever appeared. I eventually closed it down.
Did the same exact thing with a coffee grinder when I moved to Toronto. I had a plastic bit that was essential to the grinder’s operation. Like the Visa card, I put the plastic bit in a spot that was odd and (so I thought) unforgettable when I was packing. Again, the spot was so odd that I forgot where I’d goddamn put it.
I spent my first weeks in Toronto searching for the plastic bit. I couldn’t make coffee without it. I contacted the grinder company, to see if I could purchase a new plastic bit, without having to purchase a new grinder entirely. (It’s a fancy grinder, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to buy a new one.) While waiting for the grinder company to get back to me, I got a text from my girlfriend. “Is this what you’re looking for?” the text said. Included was a photo she’d taken, moments ago, of what she’d found. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was, indeed, the bit I was looking for. “I found it on the floor of the closet,” she texted. How the plastic bit had traveled from Vancouver to the spot on the floor of her closet in Toronto continues to baffle me.
She offered an explanation: “Maybe it fell out of one of your jacket pockets?” she wrote.
She’s probably right; that’s probably what happened. But part of me wondered, half seriously, if tiny gremlins follow me around all the time. The gremlins move very quickly, so fast that I can’t see them. They take my things—Visa cards, cellphones, plastic bits essential to coffee grinders—and hide them on me.
The gremlins have glowing red eyes. They enjoy watching me suffer. They enjoy watching me scratch my head as I wonder if I’m slowly losing my grip on reality.