Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is This Because I Admitted to the Internet that I Love My Brother?

On Friday, I was sitting in the Top of the East admiring the view and having a meeting about a conference that's going to roll into town in a few years, and after the meeting was over I looked down at my phone and saw that I had a message. It was from an unfamiliar but local number. When I listened to the message, the person on the other end revealed himself to be from my bank.


But then the guy on the message kept talking, and he said, "We just got a phone call from a police department up north. They found your purse and called us with the information inside."

And then my thoughts were less along the lines of doom and destruction and more along the lines of what the fuck?

My purse? The purse I lost? The purse I lost last September, back when I was going out with that really cute guy who ended up being a complete douche--bygones!--and while I was at his house one night there was a party, and one of his douche-bag friends stole my purse? THAT purse?

Turns out, yeah, it was that purse.

After the phone call from the bank, I got phone calls from lots of places--including the library and the school where I work--because the police had found my cards and IDs in my wallet and called everyone, hoping that somehow they'd find me. They did.

And so, later, I left happy hour and five dollar mojitos to drive back up to the town where that boy lived so that I could reclaim my purse. I wasn't exactly sure what was going to be in there, but the police officer I spoke to on the phone said my camera was in it. I was dying to see what else had been left and what that might tell me about who had taken it.

All I was sure of was this: Someone had found my purse in a melting snowbank. It had probably been there, buried under snow that drifted in from the ocean, all winter.

I know very little about the town where this boy lived. In fact, all I know about it is this: I know where that boy lived. I know to get to his house, and I know how to get back to the Interstate. So I had no idea where I was when my GPS directed me to the police station, but it didn't matter. I felt like there were eyes everywhere. I felt like everyone knew why I was there. I felt the ghost of that boy in every turn. I had no idea where I was, and I was afraid after the next turn, I'd suddenly be by his street--just having approached it from a new direction--and I wouldn't be ready to face it.

There's a small sliver of crazy in me, after all, and every now and again, despite the many months that have passed, whenever I see a car like his on the street, I have a small hope that it's him, and a similarly small hope that I would transform momentarily into the kind of girl who would ram her car into his.

I generally settle for glaring. And the times it was him that I passed--some pretty new girl riding next to him--I settled for weeping instead of car-ramming.

But the streets were generally empty when I came into town, nowhere near his house. The police station was locked up and empty, and I had to pick up the emergency phone outside it, and I got patched in to the central command in Augusta, and they told me they'd have one of the officers over there but quick.

So I hung up and stood there, outside the dark station. I loafed near a picnic bench and tried not to seem suspect, suspicious, vagrant. I tried not to think about that boy at all, or the fun I'd been having with him, or how pretty he was when he smiled. I tried not to think about the fact that I could, seven months later, still exactly picture the smile he smiled at me over the breakfast table the last time I saw him.

Luckily, I didn't have to think about not thinking for too long, because one of the officers was just around the corner, and he careened into the parking lot, throwing me into the glare of his lights.

"You're here for a purse?" he said as he stepped out of the car.

"Yes," I said.

"When did you lose it?" he asked.

"September," I said.


I nodded.

He let us into the building, and there it was--my purse--locked behind the check-in desk. Seeing it almost knocked me out. I couldn't breathe for a second. It was eerie seeing something you had said goodbye to a long time ago, something you knew you would never get back.

It was gaping open, and I could see some of the things inside: polka-dotted umbrella, wallet, glasses case. I wanted to cry.

The officer brought it out and put it in front of me. He picked up the wallet, cracked it open. "All your credit cards," he said. "You must have canceled them a long time ago."

"Yes," I said. I shook my head. I couldn't believe whoever stole my purse hadn't at least tried to take the credit cards and make a go of it.

"License," the officer said, showing me my Maine license. "School ID." He opened the purse wider. "Camera," he said, touching the case. "iPod."

"My iPod?" I said, but sure enough, there it was. There everything was.

"There's no cash," he said.

But I never carry a lot of cash. I just don't. The night I was at the party, I probably had sixteen dollars in my purse. So whoever took it got sixteen dollars in cash and left everything else. Everything else that stranded me overnight, everything that left me locked out of my car and apartment. Everything that ended up costing me $900 to replace.

"Oh my God," I said. I touched everything. "I just can't believe it."

He passed the purse's handles over to me. "Well, at least it came back," he said.

"Yes," I said, "you're right."

And that was it. He held the door open for me, and I left. I drove back home, two purses sitting on the seat next to me. I drove back down the route I used to drive on my way home from that boy's house, and I imagined one of the people from that party taking my purse, leaving, scalping the cash, and then throwing my purse out the window and into some ditch, where it would stay under drifting snow, all those parts of my life locked under ice for months.

I got angrier about everything on the drive home. It was one thing back when I thought my purse had been stolen for all the valuable things in it, but now that I knew it had been stolen for cash, for an insanely tiny amount of cash, I wanted to scream.

But other people had different feelings about it.

"It's karma!" Diana said when she called.

"I guess," I said. By then, I'd laid everything out onto a towel to dry. The officers had tried to air it out as much as they could, but the purse contents were still moist by the time I got them home. I was sitting on the floor in front of the inventory. I was touching the rusted MSU keychain, all the keys I'd had to get replaced. I was looking at my old New York license, and my stupid-big-hopeful face on it.

"This makes me want to punch someone," I said. "Punching someone would feel so good."

"KARMA!" Diana insisted. "Have you done something really good lately? Have you put good energy out into the world?"

"I don't know," I said. "I'm in love with my students this semester. Do you think it's because I have a better attitude than last fall?"

"No," she said. "Wait. I know!" she said. "Your brother! Maybe this is about your brother! You just admitted to the Internet that you actually love him!"


"You DID."

"Yes," I said. "I did."

"Well, that might be it!" she said. "It might be that you finally admitted it. FINALLY."

So there you have it, Internet: I love my brother, and I have my purse back, and some asshole in central Maine has my sixteen dollars. It might be as close to a fairytale ending as I'll ever get.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

I almost was in tears. A purse found its way home.

I love accessories.

But WTF to the person who stole it in the first place. At least take the expensive stuff and pawn it if you are going to BOTHER stealing it. Idiots.