It’s missing yet right “here”

I knew exactly where to find the ingredients the day I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies with my pre-schooler. I pulled out flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, butter, nuts and . . . no chocolate chips. They were not there beside the vanilla. They were not under the counter. They were not up high on the top shelf.
They were not anywhere. Opening cupboard doors, I muttered, “where are those chocolate chips? I know I have some.”
“I found them,” my pre-schooler announced.
I turned and looked at him. “Where?”
He ran to the little closet built under the stairs and crawled way back where the ceiling touches the floor and pulled out a boot.
“Here they are,” he reached inside the boot and pulled out a nearly empty bag of chips.
Only time that ever happened. If he had not found the chips for me, I would never have known what happened to the chocolate. They would have simply been missing, inexplicably gone – like the other half of a pair of socks on laundry day.
Finding half of a pair of socks in the laundry frustrates me so much I quit sorting socks and tossed them in a basket to wait for the other half to catch up. Every so often, my husband amused himself sorting socks. The leftovers, he bundled together and began imagining ways to use them: Puppets, cleaning rags or mismatched pairs of socks to wear inside boots.
The year we had four boys who wore all the same size of socks, I simplified sorting and designated each a specific color: Blue, brown, black and turquoise. Yes, I said turquoise. It was the only other color in the boy’s department that year. I never thought to simply buy everyone black socks and be done with the sorting; I thought each needed their own set of clothes.
I simplified sorting, but we still ended up with an odd number for each color of socks and I never found the missing socks.
But last week I finally figured out what happened to all those missing socks.
Last week I audio-read “There’s No Place Like Here,” by Cecilia Ahern. This fantasy book relates the life of Sandy Short, a tall, black-haired woman who becomes obsessed with finding the lost. She opens a detective business dedicated to finding missing people. One day she herself goes missing and discovers “Here” where all the inexplicably missing people and items land. Socks hang from bushes. Lost luggage filled with vacation clothes shows up in the forest. Money means nothing because the folks find it everywhere. There in the woods of “Here” Sandy reunites with her lost teddy bear, a notebook and missing people she has sought for years. But, even in “Here” Sandy Short loses stuff. It shows up back home after days, weeks and years of being lost.
I’m sure she found at least one turquoise sock in Here.
I cannot say for certain that our child’s missing black oxford went to “Here,” but we did search the house, the yard and our car for that shoe. We did not have a lot of money to buy multiple pairs of shoes for each person, so we looked and looked for that shoe until we accepted it was missing.
Then all of a sudden we found it in the car, sitting on the black carpet over the hump under the radio. We decided the black of the shoe had blended in with the black carpeting and had been there all the time.
But after reading “There’s No Place Like Here,” maybe it wasn’t.
Or maybe that’s what happened to the completed cross stitch piece I could not find for a couple of years. It went “Here” before returning and settling between layers of our stash of poster board.
I never did understand what happened to my son’s unique piggy bank – a dried gourd. We hunted everywhere for that gourd until we gave up and forgot about it … only to find it one day mysteriously tucked between the frequently worn slacks and dresses hanging in my closet.
Now I know – that gourd bank had been in “Here.”
Last fall I lost my ring of office keys even though I knew I had put them into the glove compartment in the van. They were not there when I reached for them. I took everything out of the compartment two or three times looking for those keys. I really needed those keys. I had to use the back door or simply not enter without those keys. Then last week I reached for something in the glove compartment and there were the long lost keys, exactly where I knew I had placed them.
They had obviously just returned from “Here.”
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

(Present and accounted for, Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at