Misplacing my house keys after a recent trip out West wasn’t the relaxing homecoming I’d expected. I’d looked through all my handbags, scoured each coat pocket and swiped my hand through every crevice in my luggage, but still didn’t hear that magic jingling of the keys I so desperately needed to find.
I wasn’t sure if I’d taken them with me on the trip or left them at home. I searched the end tables and drawers where I may have tossed them before flying to New Mexico.
If they’d fallen out of my purse in the airport or anywhere along my route, I’m not sure how they would find their way back to me. My name nor address was on them. They would be lost, just like the artwork I stumbled across on the sidewalk on my trip.
As I’d strolled the adobe-lined streets of Santa Fe, gawking into each art-adorned window, I side-stepped a newspaper rolled in plastic. I could read while I eat my breakfast, I thought, picking up the paper heavy with news and tucking it under my arm.
Over a mimosa and fried bananas, I unrolled the paper to find several pieces of blue metal with a bolt on each end tucked inside. The wavy parts seemed to be part of a sun whose center piece was missing. After breakfast, I inquired into several shops near where I’d found it until I stepped into one with suns of every color waving with rays exactly like the ones I’d discovered.
The owner smiled and unwrapped his art as if it was his long-lost precious baby. He thanked me and explained that he spends hours forging the metal into the shape that creates the sun’s rays, and baking the paint so that the colors are striking. He was surprised and grateful that I’d taken the time to check around and figure out which store carried them. From the crimson metal dragons to the ebony Maria Martinez pottery, this shop was as eclectic as the next, which is why, in the world of art, Santa Fe is second only to New York.
The delighted artist flipped the lights off and the suns adorning the walls lit up, some the size of a basketball, some large enough to hang above a stone fireplace. Iridescent colors shimmered on the backlit walls, faces glowing from the center of many of the solar beauties. The owner offered me free shipping and a hefty discount, so I had one shipped home.
Had I apathetically tossed the pieces that meant nothing to me back onto the sidewalk where I’d found them, I’d have missed the opportunity to meet the owner of some of the most unique art in Santa Fe. I’d have missed the dazzling display of suns and the chance to purchase one. I’d have been denied the thrill of seeing one of them blazing from my own wall at home. And more importantly, I’d have missed seeing the joy in the eyes of its adoring owner.
The same joy shines in Dad’s eyes when I point to his head when he’s hunting for “those dang spectacles,” but when my special item disappears, uncovering it isn’t quite as easy. A friend suggested I ask for St. Anthony’s help in locating my keys, so I did, and within moments, the tiny pocket on my laptop called to me. I’d already searched it several times, but, sure enough, there they were.
Singing “thank you” to the patron saint of lost items, I realized that the most unique finds aren’t the physical ones. They are the friendships and experiences that surround lost items, and finding a new friend or a “new” angel is a thrilling discovery indeed.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, Ohio, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.