Yesterday my sister called during dinner. Despite my son loudly proclaiming "phone ringing, talk on phone", repeatedly, we let the machine take the call. I heard my sister state on our answering machine that she would try me on my cell. Vaguely I wondered where my cell phone was. I hadn't seen it in a while...
So this morning, after seeing my boys off to work and day care I headed upstairs to put away the laundry, make beds, and get ready for my day. I was fighting for counter space with the cat, who is amazingly strong and was winning the fight, when I heard my cell phone ring again. Muffled. Soft. Maybe it was here upstairs? I turned off the water in order to better hear the ring, and begin to walk towards the sound.
I have to stop here and explain that my house is clean. There are a few pockets of clutter, sure, but for the most part, I know where everything is. i am organized. I am a clean freak. I detest clutter. So really, how hard would it be to find a cell phone that I certainly just set down somewhere. Harder than you think.
The phone stopped ringing before I even got into the hallway. I looked around the office- my eyes swept the desk top, the tv stand, the file cabinet. No phone. I headed into my son's room and checked the top of the dresser and the changing table. No Phone. I pass quickly through the bathroom and check the counter- no phone.
By this time I am beginning to panic slightly. I am never more than an arm's length away from my phone. What if the call that just came in was important? What if it was my husband, who was dropping Matthew off at day care this morning. What if it was one of the nurses from the assisted living where my mother lives? Panic panic panic... breath breath breath...
I grab the house phone and call my cell. Holding the phone in one hand I walk, slowly, through the upstairs, listening for the ring. My cat tangles herself in my feet and starts meowing. How does she know when I need to be quiet? Shushing the cat while trying not to fall down the stairs, I strain to hear the cell phone ring. It stops, and while I don't know where the ring is coming from, i can tell that I am no where near it. Sighing, I dial the number again.
I won't bore you with the details of how many times I had to call my cell phone before I finally figured out which room it was coming from. Finally, I determine that the office is where the ringing is coming from. I stand in the middle of the room, still as the night, head cocked to the side, listening. The closet! The phone is in the closet! I throw open the door and look on every shelf of the bookcase nestled inside. No phone. I remember Matthew playing in this closet yesterday so I take out the briefcase and dump it on the floor. An empty skittles bag, a luggage ticket, a sky mall magazine. Apparently I have not used this bag since my last flight. But no phone.
I dial my number and once again do that quiet dance around the room. is it over here? I stretch to the left. Over here? Stretch to the right, this time on one foot. (Don't we all think this will help us to hear better?) The tv stand! I don't know how I thought the ringing was coming from the closet, WAY over on the other side of the room. It is definitely coming from the tv stand. I open the doors under the tv and rummage around. A fish net and fish food? How long has it been since we have even had fish in this house? I remember when we got our first fish. Brad brought me a book on fish as a present, and then we went out together to get our first tank and fish. I think about the time we took a little black and white fish, "Oreo", out of the tank and put him in a tupperware bowl that we sat on the coffee table and held a vigil, of sorts. The poor thing died despite our best efforts, but we certainly tried our best to keep it among the living.
No phone. I stand on my toes and lean over the top of the television set, peering down behind the tv stand. Using the fish net, (how handy!), I fish for a dark, solid object resting on the floor. This must be my phone! I struggle with the net for a moment or two, holding my breath, as I pull out my phone. I exhale loudly and reach down to grab my prize. A deck of cards. Really? I am about the set the cards thoughtlessly on the desk when I notice the Moon Palace logo on the back. These were the cards we bought in Mexico on our honeymoon! We were stranded at the resort for an extra day due to a hurricane, and all outdoor activities were cancelled. I smile as I remember Brad and I sitting on the huge bed in our room, laughing and drinking and playing cards as the rain sluiced down the large glass doors to the balcony and the wind bent the trees towards the sand.
One more call leads me towards the white plastic drawers by the door to the room. These drawers came with Brad to the marriage, and besides holding our taxes from every year of our marriage they are a catch all. I pull open the top drawer. A car title, (hmm, maybe this isn't the best place to keep this.), a crayon, a hair scrunchie. When was the last time I had hair long enough to even wear a scrunchie? When was the last time people even wore scrunchies? I open the middle drawer and find the map of Dongguan City that was in the "gift bag" the orphanage sent along with our baby boy. I remember the orange juicer they gave us, brand new, still shrink wrapped in the box, because "babies like orange juice". I smile when I think of the many times during that trip to China when my husband and I jokingly repeated that sentiment. Babies may like orange juice, but our baby wasn't liking any beverages we tried. 100 degree heat, steamy, rainy season, and a 15 month old refusing all attempts to get him to drink. We often wondered aloud during those first few weeks where those orange juice loving babies were...
The bottom drawer holds our taxes. Nothing exciting there, and definitely no phone. I sigh and dial the house phone again. I swear, this time the ringing is back to the other side of the room. How is it that it keeps moving? I stand, on my toes this time, head cocked to the side, listening. The file cabinet!
I open the bottom drawer. We bought this cabinet when I started my current job and found that I would be officing from home. When did "office" become a verb? Six months ago I had dreams of what this office would look like, how it would be easy to share space with my husband. He would have his space, I would have mine. We would keep the desk neat and tidy, just like my old desks in my old offices, in actual buildings away from home. Sigh.... I look around now and see folders from my husband, papers from me, and crayons all over the floor. Wow, that was a quick trip to the bottom.
I stare into the file cabinet drawer, amazed by what I see. Or what I don't see, actually. The folders are empty and still in the box they came in, in the closet. How can it be that I have been working from home for six months and managed to not file a single piece of paper? at least the emptiness makes it easier to see what is hiding at the bottom of the drawer. A very small Thomas the Tank Engine slipper. Of course. This is exactly where I would keep my slippers if I was a two year old boy!
I open the top drawer and lift out the contents. This has been the place I have been stashing the many pieces of artwork my son brings home from day care. The many pieces of artwork. Many pieces. All so beautiful, so sweet, made by my sweet little boy. None can I part with, so in the drawer they go. I sort through the stack, remembering the smiles on my son's face when he brought each one home. Such great memories. But no phone.
This is it, I think. One last call. That damn phone has got to be in this room somewhere. I dial the phone one last time, holding my breath in anticipation. I hold the phone away from my ear and listen for the ring of my cell phone. I hear it chirping, this time in front of me. I take a step forward. There is nothing in front of me except the window. The desk is to my right, the book shelf in my closet to my left. Nothing in front of me except the window overlooking the back yard. The window my little boy loves to stand at and look down at his outside toys. The window my son goes to every night to say good night to the moon. The window he loves to stand at and pet the cat, who also loves the window. The window that was open yesterday when the two of us were hanging out in the office. The window I closed hastily before bed, my mind already on the next task. I walk slowly towards the window, the ringing getting louder. I look at the glass and see nothing but my reflection and the green grass of the backyard. I open the window, and look down. My cell phone falls out and lands at my feet, as if to say, "see, I was here the whole time!" I stoop down to pick it up, smiling to myself. That little boy of mine is always surprising me, and this time he led me on a wonderful stroll down memory lane. No wild goose chases here, only sweet, sweet memories.