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Lost and never found

I was thinking about all the things that I had lost over the years, wondering how many of them actually meant something to me.

What do I really lament having lost?

Four items came to mind. Interestingly, none of them have any monetary value.


Roscoe was a small, orange stuffed dog that I would take with me on camping trips when I was young. I was the youngest Scout in the troop for a while and had few friends, so nights felt very lonely. Having Roscoe in my sleeping bag with me somehow made the darkness a little better.

Being a sleepwalker of immense proportions, I took a long walk one night into the woods, apparently with Roscoe by my side, and lost him along the way. I felt a pang of loss deeply, but I also worried that my friends might find him and know that I kept him in my sleeping bag for those nights when the darkness crept too close.

It’s crazy to think that I still think about a lost stuffed animal from nearly four decades ago, but I do. I hate that I lost that dog.

Letters from Kamie Norris:

When I was in high school, my friends and I would spend a week in Laconia, New Hampshire, playing video games, sitting on the beach, and looking for girls. One night, as I was walking with friends down the main drag, a car drove by, and a hand emerged from the driver’s side window and waved.

I waved back.

Moments later, I met Kamie Norris for the first time. Kamie was about five years older than me, living independently and attending college. I would quickly abandon my friends for the remainder of the vacation and spend most of my time with Kamie.

Kamie and I casually dated for about a year. She lived in New Hampshire, and I lived in Massachusetts, but I would drive the 100 miles north from time to time to spend a weekend.

In between visits, we would write letters. Kamie wrote some of the best letters that I have ever received in my life. They were thoughtful, introspective, occasionally steamy letters that made me think and wonder about the world in new and fascinating ways. After Kamie and I stopped seeing each other, I would still read her letters from time to time, always finding previously unseen nuggets of wisdom.

As a kid without any parental support or guidance, Kamie’s letters represented the wider, deeper look into life that I was so sorely lacking.

When I became homeless, I lost a lot of things, including Kamie’s letters. I find myself occasionally wishing for them, wondering what else those letters contained that I hadn’t yet seen.

Cassettes from Laura:

For a cross-country trip to Pasadena, California to march in the Rose Bowl with my high school marching band, my high school girlfriend, Laura, and I recorded mix tapes for each other. Laura was taking a different flight than me, so those tapes would keep us company.

My tapes were filled with songs that quietly professed my love, but Laura’s yellow and black Memorex cassettes contain her voice, talking to me, reading Shel Silverstein poetry, singing Beatles songs while her player-piano banged away behind her, and laughing. I think I fell in love with Laura while listening to those cassettes somewhere over the midwest.

I lost those tapes during that same homeless stint that caused me to lose Kamie’s letters, and I was heartbroken.

Laura has since passed away – far too early in life – making that loss even more heartbreaking. I wish I still had those tapes so I could pass them on to her daughters, who never had the chance to know the teenage version of the mother she would one day become.

Letter from Elysha: 

After a night of hanging out together as friends, Elysha and I found ourselves sitting in my car in the school’s parking lot where we worked. Before getting out of my car and climbing into her own, she admitted to liking me.

“You know I like you,” she said.

I should’ve been thrilled at these words. I had fallen for her long before, but it had taken considerably longer for her to become enamored with me.

Instead, I said, “I’m flattered.”

She paused, climbed out of my car, stepped into her car, and drove away.

It took me a full minute before realizing what I had done. I called her immediately, again and again, but she didn’t answer, not because she was avoiding me, but because she was famous back then for never answering her phone or even having it turned on.

Texting did not exist back then, so if she didn’t pick up, I could only leave a frantic voicemail, which I did.

I suffered one of the longest nights of my life, thinking about how stupid I had been.

When I arrived at work the next morning, I found a note from Elysha on my desk, asking me to forget what she had said and expressing her desire to remain my friend.

I took the note and charged up the hallway to her classroom, where I found her sitting at her desk. “No!” I said. “No! No! No!” I told her I refused to accept her offer and that I was a stupid, stupid man who liked her, too.

Liked her a lot.

We kissed for the first time the next day.

Sadly, we don’t have that note. I think I tossed it on her desk, and she likely threw it away.

Why save it? Neither one of us knew that we were about to enter the greatest romance in the history of humankind.

But damn, I wish we still had that note. It would be fun to read and show the kids.