Ian started out driving when we went to Jerome Creek together two weeks ago. I had been continuing my stressful, anxious times, even though April, my month of rest, had ended and May was in full swing, and so I was quite happy to ride (and occasionally point out errors in the way Ian was operating the car). At the Hatton Creek Rest Area at the junction of 26 and 395, I considered taking my own keys with me while I went to piddle and Ian went to piddle the dogs, but before I got to digging too deeply in my purse, I decided that was a ridiculous idea. We were going to be at most 100 yards apart; if I finished before the dogs, I could just go to meet them.
At K&A's, we mostly used their little Nissan farm pickup because we were mostly driving hay and dogs up and down a mountain, and so I didn't again think of my keys until the end of the first week, when we took Ian to the airport between Pullman and Moscow. As he was packing up and we (and his parents, who had arrived that afternoon to spend the weekend with me) were collecting ourselves for the journey into town, it gradually turned out that my keys were nowhere to be found, at least in a timely fashion. No matter; Ian used his and drove us to dinner and the airport.
There was a brief moment of thankful relief in the airport as Ian and I remembered, just before he passed through security, that I really needed those keys of his to get all the rest of us back home.
Over the next several days I looked through all the bags I'd brought (something like 24,006); I dug multiple times under the seats in the car; I looked over and under every surface in the farmhouse. I even found a number for the regional authority which oversaw Hatton Creek Rest Area and called them, just in case I had, in fact, taken my own keys for our 100-yard separation and then left them dangling in the restroom stall. Nothing.
In the last few days of the trip, I retraced my steps through the eastern Palouse, but no one had found keys. And here's the thing: it's a HUGE ring of keys. I look like a jailer when I'm carrying them around. They should've been very hard to misplace. I decided I'd find them when I packed up everything to go.
Well, of course I didn't. I had the additional challenge in packing up to collect everything Ian had left when he flew out: he was only taking a carry-on, and so lots of things were left around the house where he'd last used them—an accordion; an ergonomic keyboard rubber-banded to a sort of lap desk Ian had sawed; a pair of Vibram Five Fingers—gathering dust and doghair and becoming so much a part of the general scene of the place that I feared I'd simply overlook them. Nevertheless, even on heightened awareness, nothing keylike appeared.
The Colfax Chevron didn't have them.
Hatton Creek, even with a personal stop, didn't have them.
Blustery's didn't have them.
And, home again, and everything unpacked and put away and the car scoured again (well, not in a way that made it clean at all), there was still no sign of them. Our safe has a double lock system—the combination, and a round key. I usually just use the combination, but when we're going away, I usually lock the key lock as well. FORTUNATELY, I hadn't done that this time. I have one key for the safe, on my key chain; the other I gave to my brother for safe keeping (ha ha) when we "moved to New Zealand" a few years ago, and it's long gone. Anyway, I was able to retrieve the information about the safe which I store in the safe and order new keys (not a bad idea anyway), and everything else was pretty replaceable, so I stopped worrying about it too much.
I've recently been rereading the five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, and there are all sorts of coincidences taking place all the time for Arthur Dent. People and things turning up when and where they're least expected, and that's what happened to me.
I opened the door to our linen closet this morning, to change the sheets on our bed, and there, just inside, lying in a big obvious heap, were my keys. Now, there was absolutely no reason I would've needed to be in the linen closet the day we left for Jerome Creek, or, indeed, any days just before.
Obviously eddies in the space-time continuum. Who knows what he was doing with my keys.
Addendum: two notes about giving a safe key to my brother--the joke was a pun on safe. To really take advantage of my opportunity for bad jokes, I should've written "safe keyping". It was not a dig at my brother who, in fact, spurred by this entry, went in search and found the second key that I gave him years ago. So now I'll have four.