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The Unbearable Lightness of Objects

As I get older, I get heavier, more earthbound. The objects around me, by contrast, have become lighter … so light that they can float away and disappear. 

Consider my car keys. They are firmly in my hand as I prepare to walk out the door. I put them down to grab a sweater and lo, the car keys are gone! I look everywhere: on the furniture, in the kitchen, in my handbag, in the bathroom … thank goodness my cottage is no bigger! Just as I am about to give up, I spy them, smugly perched on the edge of the piano.

You may think that I am just getting forgetful, but a much more intriguing explanation is that my car keys levitate, vaporize, and then rematerialize. My eyeglasses have developed a similar propensity with the addition of an annoying quirk. Sometimes, while in the midst of my search, I happen to walk by a mirror and I see them! They have rematerialized on my head. The impudence!

Some objects can go quite far afield. I have earrings that can move from one room to the next. Last spring, I lost a pair of sandals. I searched everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Having eliminated all the obvious possibilities, I moved to the unlikely. Did I absently put them in the freezer? In the garden shed? In the car? Surely not, but I looked anyway. That fall, I went to the shoemaker and there, on a shelf, wrapped in a plastic bag, were my sandals. You will say that I forgot that I’d taken them to be mended. I prefer to think they drifted off to visit their compatriots. 

I wonder if other people have floating objects. My friends, I know, are just absent-minded. They give things away and then, after a few months, spend hours searching for them. (“Where is that really big mixing bowl that I always used for making bread?”) If my dematerializing objects are, as I suspect, unique, imagine how interesting this would be to NASA! I think I’ll have my car keys analyzed or … maybe … exorcised. I’ll decide next time they turn up. 

Jeanette Strasser Pfaff '60 is a Swarthmore class secretary and a newsletter columnist for the Carol Woods retirement community in Chapel Hill, N.C.