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I can’t find my keys to the apartment. Notice that I didn’t say that I “lost”my keys. They have to be here somewhere since I let myself into the apartment yesterday when I came home from shopping and I didn’t leave again. I looked in all the usual places — my pockets and my purse and my backpack but nada. I even accused Rose of ferreting them away. She was looking guilty sitting there on the back of the couch. Besides, I know that she’s still extremely upset with me for bundling her into a cold, plastic,  brown (not her best color) container and disgracing her by taking her out in public — first time in ten years. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I let a stranger prod and squeeze her and even stick his finger in her mouth. She hasn’t had anything pleasant to say to me since. But this accusation of mine demanded some kind of a reply, so she puffed herself into an outrage and haughtily declared innocence. She, then, nodded her head in the direction of her sleeping brother. Nick is sweet but he’s not nearly as clever as his sister so I knew he did not have my keys.

I was particularly upset about this episode of losing keys — there have been other occasions, just ask Len — since I have been extremely good lately about putting things where they belonged. This flurry of creative organization all came about because of all the paraphernalia that we, in the North, have to wear in order to survive walking three blocks to the streetcar stop. I was getting very frustrated with myself because every time I walked in the door, I dumped whatever I was wearing on the kitchen counter. By the end of the week there would be multiple pairs of gloves, mitts, hats, scarves and, an occasional sock, piled on every bare surface of that counter. The cats loved it since it gave them cozy, warm, padded places to sit while they contemplated what I was cooking and deciding whether it was something that was worth begging for later in the evening — they were often disappointed. So I told Handy-Dandy Person, Steven, about my dilemma and my idea of putting a shelf with baskets under the counter. He measured and drew pictures and measured again and then, two weeks later, there it was — Ann Was Organized. To complete this Everything-In-Its-Place reorganization, I took the little wooden palm-trees-decorated plate that Lenny had brought me from Cuba and designated it for Keys, USB sticks and all things small. A Neat and Tidy and Organized Casa Ana — until yesterday.

The trouble with losing things when you’re in your 60s is that there’s always that subtext that maybe, just maybe, these lost keys are the sign of a more serious forgetfulness creeping into my brain or vital information seeping out. You can lose keys, and most anything else, when you’re in your 20s and 30s and 40s and sometimes even your 50s, and no one thinks anything of it. But do it even once when you’re officially “old” according to the Social Security Administration or Old Age Canada, and people suddenly give you that look which says: “Hmm, is Ann losing ‘it’?” “Has her memory gone down the same path as her keys?”

I have been trying diligently to keep the old brain cells lubricated by doing my Daily Brain Training faithfully. My perseverance is supposed to guarantee razor sharpening of my attention and memory and problem solving and a slew of other skills — even for a woman of my age. Hasn’t keeping my brain alert been my justification for playing endless word bubble games and getting all those little choo-choo-chooing trains back to their proper stations and fitting the puzzle pieces where they need to be in 32 seconds? Maybe my lost keys came about because I’ve been cheating by only playing the games I like and avoiding all the others I find tedious like math bubbles and jumping frogs and filling coffee orders.

I know the keys will show up one of these days. They’re probably under one of the piles on the dining room table. If I was really worried, I’d get my litany to St. Anthony started. He can find anything at anytime for you. But, I still think Rose took them and when she’s ready to give them back, they’ll show up in the little dish from Cuba right where they’re supposed to be. I hope she does it before I have to put her back in that brown box to go back to the vet or I’ll never see those keys again.

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