I Can Walk Under Ladders

My college roommate tortured me. Not by bringing home an endless stream of guys. Not by being a huge slob, or selling drugs from our cinder-block dorm room Shangri-La. It was a CD. A Joan Armatrading CD that she listened to NON STOP.

Which is to say, when she was happy. When she was depressed. When she had a paper to write, or to celebrate having just handed one in. And when she didn’t know what else to listen to.

I loved her dearly. She was one of my closest friends. But God. Help. Me. It was A LOT of Joan Armatrading.

In fact, at one point the frat we lived next to was hazing their initiates. For a week they blasted some horrible 80s rap song—the same damn song—over and over and over again. And frankly hearing that was a cake walk compared to my own private musical hell. I could have gotten into that frat no problem-o considering what I’d endured for months. I mean, if I’d also had a penis, was willing to drink non-stop, chug gold fish, and sex up goats.

Though to be fair the them, the goat thing is just conjecture. For all I know they were having sex with cows. (It was, after all, rural Ohio.)

Anyway, one of the songs in my private musical hell went, “I’m lucky. I’m lucky. I’m lucky. I can walk under ladders.”

And right now? Well right now, decades later, I am SO down with that song. I am truly feelin’ lucky.

Because last week, while grabbing a random laptop bag that was wedged alongside my desk, I found a long-lost library book. It was Big Dog, Little Dog by Tolstoy. Or maybe it was P.D. Eastman. Anyway, one of them.

I’d already bought a replacement of the book for the library. But finding it was still a thrilling validation that I’m not the world’s worst housewife. That my house didn’t swallow that book up like a hairball, and refuse to cough it up. Plus the discovery eradicated that bad lost-something feeling that can lurk in one’s soul. That crappy feeling of irresponsibility that can only be removed by finding what it was you foolishly let slip away.

Of course, it being Monday and Oakland suffering from gargantuan budget cuts, the library was closed. So I was unable to swagger in waving the book around and bellowing, “Eureka!” Instead I stuck a neon yellow Post-It note on it. “Found this!” I proclaimed. “Already replaced it, but that’s okay.” I left off the “love, Kristen,” but I think it was implied.

Then I stuck the book in the drop box.

Heck, I already got you a new one, Library, but take this one TOO. I’m feelin’ that generous.

The thing is, I lost that book the same fall weekend in Seattle when I lost my diamond pendant necklace. The special one Mark gave me on our first wedding anniversary. And I don’t know about you, but my jewelry box isn’t exactly overflowing with diamond necklaces.

Anyway, finding the book made me tear through all the little zippered sections and pen nooks in the bag I found the book in, wildly hoping that my necklace would also magically appear. I thought I could, like, double down on my finding luck.

But no dice.

Mark was traveling for work, at the yearly CES geek-fest in Vegas. And on Wednesday night while he dined on steak, drank expensive wine, and spent a rollicking evening gambling, boozing, and maybe even chomping a cigar, I sat in our living room surrounded by four (count ‘em, FOUR) laundry baskets full of clean clothing. And I folded. And folded. And folded.

Because I know how to have a good time.

For some reason when I was putting stuff away I was overcome with the OCD urge to sort through my sock and underwear drawer. This is the sort of strange organizational compulsion that overtakes a gal like me at 9:30 at night when all the laundry is folded but you want more hot crazy domestic action. Oh yes, I was unhinged.

I happily re-united socks that had been living apart from each other just inches away—unworn for months! I wadded together a bolus of brown and black tights larger than a watermelon. I even decided to THROW AWAY some underwear that dated back to the first Bush administration. I mean, I was making all kinds of world-rocking changes and life-enriching decisions. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m even planning to wear a matching bra and underwear set some time soon.

I know… cuh-razy, right?

Anyway, as I dug down towards a strapless bra I may have bought for my prom dress, past some random business cards I stowed with my undies years back for safe-keeping, somewhere amidst all that and a weird Russian watch I have, I found my diamond necklace. Just sitting there. Looking so oddly there, that I couldn’t believe it was it.

It’s not like the sound track to this discovery—had this taken place in my movie memoir—would’ve been a sudden clap of of upbeat, celebratory music. Or even an angelic chorus mounting in pitch. Instead there was a weird kinda pins and needles sound in my brain. I’ve wanted to find this necklace for so long, but finally looking at it, I somehow couldn’t grasp what I saw. It’s like I was stuttering in my mind, “No. No. Naw…” until it finally clicked.”Wait. Really? Oh my God—YES!”

This is why my life story can’t be a documentary. It has to be acted out by someone else. I’m just so bad at acting out the most exciting parts. If you don’t believe me, ask Mark how dopey I was when he asked me to marry him.

Anyway, what was so funny about that damn Joan Armatrading CD Leah used to listen to was that I’d bemoan it constantly to her face, but eventually I kinda started getting into it. Not that I ever admitted that to her, mind you. It was like some kinda musical Stockholm Syndrome. I think I sometimes even maybe played the CD when she wasn’t around.

Eventually, after college I ended up buying myself a copy.

After finding that damn beloved necklace I never thought I’d see again I wanted to blast the song I’m Lucky louder than a frat house. That is, if I were willing to stop admiring it around my neck for long enough to dig up the CD.

P.S. Check out this incredible story my friend Lauren sent me about another lost item that was found.

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