Reclaiming Loss Part I


People used to call me Shirley Temple, but the star is dead.

I was five at the time, with hair in curly ringlets. I was five when we ventured off into a whole new world—the Canadian McDonald’s.

The blanket was fleece. It came with a matching coat.

I brought the coat and blanket inside the McDonald’s café. I enjoyed my French fries and chicken nuggets, but this Happy Meal didn’t have a “happily ever after.”

I abided by Kid Code: sipped my soda, played in the play-place, and tinkled. But Mom didn’t abide by Mommy Code. She forgot my blanket at McDonald’s.

Left behind. No child. ‘Merica. Fuck yeah!

The blanket, now in the arms of some Petite Prince or little girl or let’s throw in a twenty-eight-year-old college grad paying off her loans. Doesn’t matter. I miss my blanket.

Toms. Toms was his name. Is his name.

I confuse the past and present.

I’m trying to avoid turning this essay into something sappy about my dog. Pets are traditional, normal. You have one for any given amount of time, and then it dies. Then you grow up.

But Toms was more than a dog. He was my blanket.

Bred in Athens, Maine, Toms is/was a shih tzu. Sixteen years of age upon passing. Died in the kennel lady’s lap.

On the road in the car on the way to the vet. He was acting strange that day. But where were we?

Just returned home from a trip to Jersey. About to pick Toms up from the kennel. But there was no pick-up. All we have is the past.

Two cheap headphones, a pair of Bose from my cousin Matt, and Beats by Dre. I lost them all.

Somehow I don’t lose the “important” things, like school assignments or my glasses, but 2014 was the Year of the Missing Headphones.

Beats are big in college. Beats define this nonconformist (possible) conformity. But everyone has a different color, so I guess it’s okay.

Until recently. I had a pair of black Beats, and then I lost them, as usual.

Music, talent, potential. Losing the competition. Fingers shake. Tremble. Trill. Triangle solo. Audition.

Cold room. Damp air. Rain clouds. Old lovers and ex-friends. We all use the same facilities. We all sing, dance, play, read poetry.

Fingers shake. I lost my Beats. Earthquake. I’m gonna throw up.

“Scales. Let’s see, d minor.”

“Okay.” But no, it was more like “O..oh…oh…k,” insert extra o’s. Nervioso.

Señora, stop beating down on me with stern looks and faux sympathy. Señora, I gotta parar.

I gotta leave. Pardon me. First stall on the right.

The zit that pissed. High school. Bullshit.

In the bathroom, on the phone. Mom, why aren’t you picking up?

I tried to pop it, but it explodes!


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