Stealing Toilets

It seems fitting that the first post on a blog recently retooled for the anxious middle-aged adventuress should be about losing things.

I have an active imagination. It’s one of the things that makes me a writer, but in everyday life it can be troublesome.

More than a decade ago, my husband and I redid all the bathrooms in the fixer-upper we bought. We were going out for dinner after shopping at Home Depot and had a new toilet in the back of the truck. I suggested we lock the shell, and he laughed at me. “What, you think someone’s going to steal a toilet?”

It seemed plausible to me. People steal copper from construction sites. Why not a brand-new toilet?

It’s become our private joke, but laughing about it hasn’t made me stop worrying. The other day I was digging up the yarrow infesting my backyard and decided to take a break. I slid my blue-and-gray work gloves onto the handles of the wheelbarrow and leaned the shovel up against it. Then I asked myself, “Should I move the wheelbarrow over by the compost pile? It’s so close to the fence here.”

In my defense, my house is surrounded by only a chain-link fence and looks out onto a park and open space. I’m glad I don’t have a privacy fence blocking my view of the mountains, but the low fence doesn’t keep anything out of my yard that wants to get in.

Still, would someone reach over the fence to grab a 14-year-old shovel? A wheelbarrow? The weeds?

No one did, of course, and if I put some of my garden decorations near the fence, they would probably stay put too. If someone did steal them, though, I would remember that—not the weeks or months or years they were there, but the moment they disappeared.

What does this have to do with adventure, you ask?

I still think about the short coat I left in a hostel in Paris when I was doing my junior year abroad. I still wonder how I lost my mother’s class ring.

If I’m going to travel extensively, I will lose things. It’s inevitable that one day I’ll set something down and it will be snatched up (like the backpack my young neighbor stepped too far away from on her tour of South America).

My question is, can I accept this loss?