Lake Wales, Florida
Life with no fixed address is not free. Worse, it can be costly.
We lose stuff, regularly. Little, and mostly expensive stuff or stuff that must be replaced immediately.
This happens for two reasons, one we are dragging stuff in and out of the truck all the time. Having a shower requires the shower bag, which includes shower shoes and towels depending on the shower facility, a change of clothes, the iPad for McGyver.
When we stay in a hotel, a large amount of stuff is dragged out, computers, power cords, chargers, cables, bookkeeping and receipt folders, calculator with the tape and two roll-on suitcases. When we’re out of the truck we like to wear our civvies. The city stuff. The other reason we lose stuff is that the truck is giant black hole. It is dark inside with poor lighting, the truck is moving, things roll, certain things should be within arms reach, other things put away, of course put it away and we need it now. There are fewer places to stash stuff. We get distracted, doing more than one thing at a time. We absent-mindedly put it down and it vanishes.
We forgot a feather pillow in a hotel and recently left a bathing suit on a bathroom hook, lost socks in washers and dryers.
The first big item I lost was a pair of white gold hoops, which I purchased for my 40th birthday for $375, a steal when looking at today’s gold prices. I wore them in Vancouver last summer but we stayed in at least three different homes and a hotel. This bothered me. A lot. They were sentimental, marking the passage of time, and the ability to buy such a gift for myself. I think about them when I’m driving. Did I leave them in the hotel, the bathroom, by the bed? Miraculously three days ago, there they were in the front pocket of a little plastic jewellery envelope. Stunned and grateful.
My big loss happened in January in Buenos Aires, Argentina, probably the same day that we lost the Verizon AirCard, which we deemed an irritating inconvenience. The devastating loss was my favorite sunglasses, red Ray Bans with tortoise arms. Sunglasses, that my elegant friend Janet Helm was quick to point out, match my toes and my thongs. Prescription sunglasses, two prescriptions, distance and reading, top-of-the-line Varilux lenses with extra-wide progressives. The hottest looking sunglasses I’ve ever owned. Did I say expensive? Very expensive, yet purchased at a discount on a vision care plan at Schneider National.“Are you going to cry like that if you lose me?” McGyver asked. I was slumped on the edge of the bed, in a room where Evita may have sat, weeping like a starlet or a harlot. My shoulders were heaving, hardly able to catch my breath, let alone speak. They are my driving glasses, tools of my trade.
“I was trying to be careful,” I wailed and snorted. “Putting them back in my purse, closing the zipper on my purse.”
Truth is I break or lose things all the time — on our first weekend away together, 20 years ago, I broke McGyver’s giant flying kite at Long Beach, Washington, six feet across, crashed it into the sand in the gusty winds — not paying attention, in a hurry. Usually I slap my forward, mutter dumb bag, and continue on my way.
But the sunglasses, that was a blow. They were last seen at the big tree in Plaza San Martin, near the Buenos Aires Design center. I discovered them missing at Puerto Madero, miles away, just before what I hoped would be a romantic sunset dinner. We retraced our steps, nothing.
Back in New York, we found the same frames, but not the color. We had temporary lenses made, the final bill was $600 after the 30% AARP discount. Not the same, but okay. The lenses were shipped to Dallas and installed before we left for Asia.
On our last full day in Bangkok, walking from Dean & Deluca, an outpost of the New York institution at Chong Nonsi to the Sala Daeng Skytrain stop, I glanced in the Top Charoen window. Top Charoen is the LensCrafters of Thailand with the presence of Duane Reade or Walgreen’s. A glasses store on every corner. Our regular location is at the Asok stop where we’ve spent several thousands of dollars frames and lenses in the past five years.
There they were. Sparkling in the window. Beckoning. The original frames cost $151 with tax in New York, minus 30%. I paid $205 bargaining down from the sticker price of $290. I WANTED them and I had no time to spare. The worst position to be in in a negotiation. I’m saving up money to have the lenses made.
The most aggravating losses still are the ones to the black hole in the truck. We put things down, turn around and they disappear.
Sitting in the bunk, my kitchen, the bed tray with a one-inch lip around to keep stuff from falling off, piled with the ingredients for McGyver’s dinner sandwich. I am the Queen of Sandwich, creating different combinations of sandwiches. One every day about 220 days a year for each of three years is a a lot of sandwiches to dream up. I use roasted turkey, ham, roast beef, all sorts of cheeses, hard and soft, mostly goat cheese now — seems easier on the digestion — dried fruits, red onion, shallots, avocados, roasted vegetables.
The sandwich last week was oven-roasted turkey, yellow mustard, baby spinach leaves, Vermont sharp cheddar, shallots and avocado. I know I took everything out of the fridge. I did have the avocado in my hand, when I reached for it, it had disappeared.
“I’ll be sleeping with the avocado tonight,” I called up to McGyver in the cab. “I cannot find the avocado anywhere. It rolled somewhere.”
I did find it, an hour down the road before I went to sleep, tucked between the quilt and the pillows.