The Song: "Kind & Generous," Natalie Merchant. Words & Music by Natalie Merchant. Track 3 of Ophelia, 1998.
How/when acquired: Purchased CD, 1999.
Twelve years after I first heard this song, it can still surprise me into tears. I listen to it whenever I need a reminder to be grateful, which is often.
I was telling a story at a party a couple of years ago when my friend Jenny said, "Yeah, but you live that kind of magic life." It's true. My whole life is a series of miraculous surprises, starting with my birth as an unexpected twin. From day one, the universe has come to my rescue; I try never to take it for granted, and I try to be grateful.
It happened again last night. I took buses from New York to Portland, then a cab back to the airport, where I'd left my car. I found my car, but could not find my keys.
I carry a giant black tote bag, a gift from my friend Karen L., that is something like a magician's hat. I never know exactly what's in there, and sometimes it's best not to look too closely. But I dumped the entire contents on the hood of my Beetle, sure that the keys would fall from the bottom. They didn't.
The last place I remembered having them was at the airport a week ago, so I thought it couldn't hurt to ask whether anyone had found them there and turned them in. Otherwise, they could be anywhere: on a plane, at Dulles Airport, somewhere in San Francisco, somewhere in New York City, on a bus traveling the Northeast Corridor.
"We don't have lost-and-found on site any more," the woman at the Traveler's Aid desk told me. "It got to be too much. There's an automated system. I can give you the phone number." I called it and got voice mail. I left my name, phone number, and details of what I'd lost, with no real hope that anyone would return my call.
Plan B was to return to the bus station, catch a bus to Augusta, then take a cab home and get my neighbor to let me in. I have an extra car key somewhere in the apartment (though to be honest, I don't know where), so figured I could beg another friend for a ride to Portland today to pick up my car. Dizzy wasn't scheduled for pickup until 4:00 this afternoon.
So I walked to the taxi booth, staffed by a tall, handsome older man (a man who looked very much like old pictures of my grandfather McLaughlin, in fact) named Dan, who knew I had not come in on a plane. I told him my whole sad story and he said, "Let me make a phone call. Or two, actually." He did, and asked, "How many keys were on the ring?" I told him, and added that the key ring also has an old card from the Beverly Hills Library (sentimental; I couldn't give it up). "Let's go upstairs," he said.
"They found them?" I said. "They have them?"
They did indeed. Twenty minutes later, I had ransomed my car and was headed for home. I picked up Dizzy first thing this morning, just because I missed him.
So thank you, Dan, and thank you, St. Anthony (finder of lost things), and thank you, whatever forces in the universe continue to save me from myself, time and time again. I will try not to make it so hard for you, I promise.