A long, long time ago, I bought a wax seal.
I was fifteen. I don't remember where I bought it, only that I liked the warmth of the cast brass and thought that it was something a writer should do. The crest was either a very angry lion or a very small-winged gryphon, but it was rampant and pretty and managed, somehow, to look both tame and wild. I bought wax, too, a sparkly deep red that looked like jellied blood. And because I had the stamp, because I wanted to use the stamp, I wrote letters.
I wrote I like you letters and I love you letters and I don't love you anymore letters. I wrote to friends far away and slipped folded notes under dorm rooms at college. One time, I wasn't paying enough attention, and I dropped a sizzling berry of wax on my forearm. I knew that touching it would only spread the pain, so I gritted my teeth and watched it harden and sizzle before plucking off the bead. I still have the scar.
Once I got married and the internet became a constant, I didn't write so many letters. I put up my writing desk and my picnic basket of correspondence. I kept track with email at first, then with Facebook and Twitter.
And now, here we are. Today, I thought of my wax seal for the first time in years.
I needed it.
And I spent three hours looking for it and couldn't find it.
For nearly twenty years, it lived in a calligraphy box in my writing desk.
It's not there.
It's not in the studio, in the attic, in the basement, under my bed, or hidden in the secret box of secret memories that is hidden. I've found pocket watches, ponytails, Lego sharks, shaman armadillos, deer skulls, peacock feathers, crystals, an absinthe bottle, stones from Greece, a map from the Tour de France, a stone hippopotamus, juggling balls, a tin full of hay-golden four-leafclovers, and my collection of bellydance music.
I dug through all the notes I used to write, some of them stained with plain candle wax when correspondents tried to return the favor. And there was a conspicuous emptiness, right where that box should have been.
And it's kind of amazing, that something I haven't thought about or seen in years could make me so heartsick. That suddenly realizing it was gone made me long for it. I know it's somewhere nearby, just out of reach. I feel incomplete now. And all the other things I found don't make up for it.
It's an interesting feeling. I'm almost charmed that an object has this power over me.
Sometimes I dream of a room with walls scrawled all over with poems and stories I never finished. I'm going to imagine my seal and wax there, too.
The only alternative is to go quietly mad with heartsickness for the smallest things.
p.s. Why am I constantly blogging, updating Facebook, and Tweeting?
Because I'm not working on a book.
Don't worry. I'll shut up soon.