Keys, Wallets, and Other Objects

Things matter to me. I cannot explain why, but physical things provide comfort and security. Sometimes, simply knowing where my things are is enough to calm my mind. There are days and nights, though, when I have to find something and see it to relax. My pens, notebooks, and favorite pencils are like that. Some nights, I have to check to make sure my writing materials are nearby and okay. I'm not sure what would happen to them, but after the flooding in the last house and this house, I worry about my writing being safe and secure.

Last weekend, my wife and I planned to run errands. I wanted books on local plants, local birds, and I am still searching for a good Art Deco history text. When we were at the bookstore, I realized I didn't have my wallet. It wasn't a need — my wife had her keys and wallet — but I couldn't relax without having my wallet. It makes no sense, but I couldn't focus on the book quest or anything else. We ended up driving back to our house so I could retrieve my wallet.

We wasted an hour because I couldn't focus and relax without my wallet. There's nothing special about the wallet; it contains no photos and only the basics you might expect. If it had photos of my wife or special mementoes it might be logical to want the wallet. It has some cash and my insurance cards. Big deal. But I want my wallet with me.

I insist on writing with a particular brand of mechanical pencil, something I've mentioned on this blog before. The pencils are special; I cannot explain why, but I've used them since college. Seriously, the Pentel QuickerClicker models have been my choice since high school. When I cannot locate the right pencils, I cannot write in my journals. Yes, it is stupid, but that's how my mind works: locating the pencil becomes a priority when I'm trying to write.

Things are security. They include memories and emotions. My wallet? It's old and a bit worn, but it has been with me for years. I actually had my wallet from high school until a few years ago, when I finally convinced myself it would never be useful again. (It was a black denim wallet, matching my old acid-wash black Levi's 505 jeans.)

My wife is amazingly tolerant of my need to have some things on hand. She is more accepting of this impulse than I am some days. My wife realized I was tired, especially after battling the flu and anemia. She was fine with the round-trip to retrieve my wallet. I was upset for much of the day, feeling stupid for forgetting the wallet in the first place. I couldn't ignore the wasted hour, the wasted gasoline, and a general sense of frustration that refused to fade.

At least once the day was over I could sit with our cats and watch movies. Even on the worst of days, when my mind is completely useless and unfocused, a purring cat always helps.


  1. A couple of weeks ago I called the neighbor to come and check that I hadn't left the oven on. I was certain I hadn't but I hadn't done my "circle check" before leaving.

    I grew up not knowing I probably had Asperger's. Academically, I was in the A's, girls hid it better and it didn't exist. My bro probably had NLD but again was never dx'd nor will he ever be. I was told by my son's Dev Ped I probably did but I'm not getting a dx since I am not disabled nor claiming to speak for the autistic. This OCD has given me grief since I was a teenager and as you said when tired, it's much harder to control.

    My fav was getting startled while driving (teen) driving around the block in circles to see if I'd hit something. Not good.

    We had chinese food on the weekend and my fortune said "your organizational skills are second to none". FWIW... they probably are.

    Sometimes it's just easier to fix the problem - like get the wallet, call someone to check on the oven - than to worry about it. When it gets out of hand I'll force myself to wait once more.

  2. Reading this reminds me of my daughter, now 10, who used to become disconsolate if a photograph was missing from her pile of more than 200. At the time, neither my husband nor I could make sense of it. We would even say, but here's a photo that's almost exactly like the one we can't find. But she was adamant. The missing photo was important to her in a way that I (NT) cannot fathom. It just was. At least I understood that much. So we'd search for it, upturning the contents of the entire house until it was found and safely back in her possession. Only then would she calm down. Only then could she concentrate on anything else.


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