My Fitbit was buzzing on my wrist. 7am. I rolled over in bed and realized I was curled up at the foot of the bed. Mary was sprawled out across the top, three feet tall and yet somehow managing to take up three quarters of a king-sized bed. I tapped at my wrist until it stopped buzzing and immediately drifted back off to sleep.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
“Oh no!” I sat bolt upright in bed. “It’s twenty to eight! Get up! Get up! Everyone get up!”
Ed staggered down the stairs to get breakfast made and lunches packed while I tried to speed dress the kids.
“Hurry up, get dressed,” I urged.
“I already know! I waaaaas!”
“NO! I am NOT going to school! I won’t get dressed! NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!”
At least the two-year-old just streaked through the house giggling as I chased after her with a pull-up and some clothes.
Then I remembered. The class trip permission form and fees had to be in today. Brilliant.
“But today’s the last day to get your permission slip in for the trip. You don’t want to miss it!”
Somehow I managed to clothe all of the children. (I only count three, but I swear it felt like I was dressing a football team’s worth.) Then, as they were finishing breakfast, I fumbled around looking for the permission forms. Then I needed envelopes. Then I needed my purse. Oh, and a pen.
At some point, I realized the time and started barking out that they were going to miss the bus. Why weren’t they getting their snowsuits on? Where was Irene? Oh no, they weren’t not going to make it. Why didn’t anybody care?!
Maybe if I hadn’t been so fixated on the permission slips, Ed said in not so many words, I could have been helping him. But it was the last day! And I made a special trip to the bank yesterday to get the cash. Fine, whatever. “Where’s the car key?” Ed asked.
I ran around checking all my places. Not in my purse, not hanging on its hook, not in my jeans … and found it in my coat pocket. “Here,” I said, meeting Ed at some point between the front and back door of our house, “Here’s the key.” And I handed it to him.
He was back five minutes later.
“I don’t have the key.”
“What do you mean you don’t have the key? I gave you the key.”
“I don’t have. I don’t … I can’t find it. I put it in my pocket and now it’s gone.”
“But I gave it to you. I handed it to you! What do you mean?!”
Ed had made it as far as the back door, stopping to put on his gloves, and then realized the entire car, parking spot and yard were still buried under two feet of snow — which is why I was so anxious for the kids to catch the school bus to begin with.
He shoveled a path through the backyard to the car and then reached for the key. It was gone. Did he even put it in his pocket? Or did he leave it on the dining room table? Or in the kitchen? By the back door? Did he put it down when he put on his gloves? Or had it fallen out of his pocket in the doorway? Or was it buried somewhere in this backyard full of knee-deep snow?
“What happened to it?!” I was becoming frantic. I had so much work to catch up on and I needed to get everybody out the door. Deadline stress mingled with the anxiety of having to pay unknown hundreds of dollars to get someone to somehow make us another key without having an original. I ran outside and started madly sifting through snow as my anger mounted. The snow was actually past my knees in places. I’d never seen so much snow in my whole life, all of it a soft cushion of infuriating cover. I dropped a coin into one part and watched it quickly sink beneath the surface without a trace.
At this point I should have started to despair. Instead I was livid.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS. I HANDED IT TO YOU. I HANDED IT TO YOU. I PUT THE KEY RIGHT IN YOUR HAND.”
I kicked the wall with the toe of my winter boots and the drywall folded in on itself leaving a three foot by two foot rectangular shape indentation right beside the back door. Well, this was a new low.
Ed wound up walking the kids all the way to school. Luckily I had spent most of my rage on my impromptu demo project (I have been wanting to rebuild that addition anyway), so I was able to do some work before picking the girls up at lunch. By the time afternoon hit, I had a new obsession. Maybe the key didn’t fall out into the snow after all! Maybe it fell out in the house somewhere! Or maybe he put it down and just forgot about it!
I retraced the route Ed would have taken, looking for signs of the key on top of the heaping piles of clutter, nestled in mounds of toys or among the tangle of stray mitts. My god, I thought, I hope I don’t have to properly clean all of this today. I couldn’t find it.
It must be outside after all. Several people on Twitter suggested I rent a metal detector. If only there were an app for that! Guess what? There’s an app for that. I quickly downloaded the metal detector app and tested it out in my kitchen. Sure enough, as I waved my phone over a knife, the number on my phone’s screen shot way up.
Omg, this was going to make such a good story. I was going to use an app on my phone to find the car key. I’m a genius. The world would rejoice.
Yeah, so that didn’t work. The metal detector app didn’t seem remotely strong enough to find anything buried in several feet of snow and there was way too much random fluctuation for me to figure out what was worth digging for and what was normal. I was back to examining the snow in the backyard again. How would Ed have been holding the shovel, I wondered. What direction was he facing? I tried to figure out where the most likely places for the key to have fallen were and moved a bunch of snow around in a last-ditch attempt to find it.
Nope. It must be inside after all.
I was just finishing a massive reorganization and deep clean of the mud room when Ed came home. “No luck yet,” I said. I was just going to have to move through the house cleaning until we found it. It had come to this.
I had stopped searching to make dinner and was calling the kids to the table when Ed came bounding in the back door.
“I found it! I sifted through all of the snow and finally found it right beside the tire of the car, exactly where I stopped shoveling to look for the key and couldn’t find it.”
By the car! I hadn’t even looked there! Thank fucking god.
Now somebody please remind me to make another copy of that key.