There was a reoccurring verbal exchange during our road trip that went something like this:
Toby (plaintive wail): I can’t find my toy/shoes/book/sunglasses/hat/brand new souvenir!
Closest Adult (twisting sideways and upside-down in their seat to look): It has to be somewhere in this car!
And yet, more often than not, it wasn’t. Nor was it in the hotel room. Or the backpack. Or on his head/feet/face. Mostly, these things were just gone, lost to a black hole only Toby could conjure around him. Toby has a strange knack for losing things in this way, and it’s not a new phenomenon. Case in point: when my sister visited from Massachusetts during Spring Break, the very last thing Toby said to her was, “Have you seen my Nintendo DS?” (She hadn’t.) The very first thing he said to her when she arrived to visit this summer? Yep: “Hi Aunt Kate!” (pause) “Have you seen my Nintendo DS?” She said it felt as though she’d never left.
So when a prized (by Toby) Sacajawea silver dollar came into his possession, I was sure it was a goner. (Toby became obsessed with Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark expedition somewhere around Grand Teton National Park and can tell you anything you want to know about everyone’s favorite Native American guide, including, but not limited to, the fact that she was born a Shoshone, was dramatically kidnapped by another tribe at age 12, and that the baby on her back was nicknamed Pomp.) Wherever we went, so went the silver dollar. Our running commentary shifted to:
Adult (bracing for the worst):Toby, where’s your Sacajawea dollar?
Toby: (triumphant): Right here in my pocket/hat/shoe/sweaty palm!
That dollar was tossed up in the air and blithely caught repeatedly during hikes down dusty trails, was balanced on Toby’s forehead in the car, and was carried into untold Subways, Starbucks, and museums. It was set down on various table surfaces at the Embassy Suites, dropped into tangled sheets of unmade beds, left carelessly poolside while Toby swam, and was generally transferred from hand to hand to hand.
Sometimes, it would inexplicably end up in one of my pockets, or in my purse, or in the coin slot on the car console. Even now, back at home, I’ve spotted it amid a pile of scattered Legos, in Nate’s soccer gear, and in Toby’s bookcase. But it always seems to find its way back to its owner. Every time Toby thinks of it and wants it, he seems to know precisely where it is. It’s as though in the case of the Sacajawea dollar, the universe has reversed the repelling factor of every other possession Toby’s ever owned. He and the coin enjoy some sort of magnetic attraction that cannot (it seems) be broken.
I can’t explain it, and I’m not sure I’d ever want to. All I can say is, if I’d ever doubted it before, I am now a believer: that Sacajawea chick is every bit as tough, resourceful, and resilient as history dictates.