The Curious Case of the Missing Shoelaces

It’s been a hot minute and a half since I bopped into this blog. I feel there are things I “should” be blogging about, such as COVID … life during COVID … life lived remotely … not seeing my extended family … the isolation … the craziness of the U.S. presidential election … Well. You get the idea. The list goes on and on and on. And I do have thoughts on all of these things. But I just don’t want to blog about them. I think the feeling of “I should blog about this” — like I have some sort of obligation to do so — has kept me out of my blog for the most part. It’s almost like I feel guilty for not wanting to talk about certain topics in here. But the truth is that I am so entrenched in worrying about COVID … and feeling isolated due to COVID … and stressing about COVID … and missing my elderly parents (who I have not seen or hugged in person in almost a year) … and feeling guardedly optimistic about the presidential election, but, at the same time, continuing to channel all the stress and worry and chaos of the last four years … Just thinking about all of it makes me tired. And sad.

So, instead, I am going to tell you about the Curious Case of the Missing Shoelaces. This is, in fact, a true story. Not clickbait! Not fake news! I suppose I should set the stage for my tale by admitting that I am not the most organized person in the world. I’m not even in the top 100 for most organized people in the world. My house is comfortable, and I love nesting in it. But I am not always good about putting things away. This is particularly true for shoes. I guess I figure it’s no use to put them away when I am just going to use them again. And, normally, in short order, as I am taking my dogs outside every two to three hours for potty breaks throughout the day.

This bad habit has been passed along from me to the rest of my family. So we have quite the pile of shoes laying around near our downstairs closets. We seem to keep our shoes separate from each other. I tend to let mine congregate near the stairs or in the laundry room. My daughter keeps hers next to a wall that is near our kitchen table. My husband actually wears his shoes all over the house. I can’t get him to switch to house shoes for the life of me. I do switch my shoes out by season. I have one pair of Keenes that I wear all year long. I suppose they are an “oxford style”. When the weather gets colder and more rainy, I have a couple of pairs of boots that I wear. One is a pair of hiking boots by Keene, and the other is a pair of boots that are lined for warmth.

And that is where my actual story begins: with the boots. Last year, on a particularly rainy day, I decided to wear my hiking boots. I had to go search for them, as it had been several months since I had last worn them. I finally found them in the dining room, behind some boxes of things we need to donate. My Boy Dog gets excited and, in true spaniel fashion, he loves to grab things and carry them around when he is feeling particularly exuberant. This means that things go missing and sometimes turn up in unexpected places, and I am sure it is what happened to my hiking boots. But here’s the weird thing: When I found my boots and went to put them on, they were missing a shoelace. One boot was completely laced and ready to go. The other boot was as naked as the day it was born. Or … something like that.

I mean … it’s weird, right? Like, really weird. This is not something you expect. Well, maybe you are better at figuring out what strange things Life throws your way. But I didn’t expect it. And I was certain I hadn’t been responsible for removing the shoelace. I was positive I would have remembered doing something like that. I looked everywhere for it. I enlisted my husband and daughter in the search. We looked behind boxes. We looked under cabinets. We looked out in the garage. We never found it. To this day, I still don’t know what happened to that shoelace.

Over time, I kind of forgot about the whole missing shoelace thing. In fact, in typing this post, I am reminded that I still need to replace that shoelace if I want to wear my hiking boots any time soon. But, no matter how strange a thing might seem in the moment that it happens, Life goes on. It carries us with it, and I think we have all realized, during this longest of all years ever, that Life can, indeed get stranger and stranger and stranger. A missing shoelace doesn’t even compare, in the grand scheme of the weirdness that is Life right now.

A couple of weeks ago, I wore my other pair of boots — the ones that are lined for warmth. I like to wear them in chilly weather when I wear my fleece-lined leggings and long-tailed, long-sleeved t-shirts. (How many hyphenated words can a person fit into one sentence, anyhow? Do you think there is a prize for this? Hmmm.) My boots were fine. I even wore them on my daily walk with my hubby. They were warm and comfy, and they had all their shoelaces.

I bet you already know where I’m going with this. Today, I went to put on my lined boots so that I could let out the dogs. One boot was perfectly fine. It was laced up and ready to go. The other boot … You guessed it! Totally and completely lace-less. What is this madness?? One lace I can shrug off as being some sort of oddity of the universe. But two missing shoelaces? Two shoelaces missing under mysterious circumstances? It has to be a conspiracy. Or a curse. Or … Well, something really, really Weird.

My husband thinks it was the cat. Or one of the dogs. I think not. The cat is too busy. She loves to run all over the house and climb and get into things. She is still a kitten, really. She doesn’t have the time or patience to sit there and unlace a shoe. Girl Dog would never do it. She is too much of a lady to stoop so low. Plus, she is afraid of everything. I am certain the idea of the shoelace would terrify her. That leaves Boy Dog, who loves shoes and paper and small objects — anything, really, that he can carry around when he gets excited. In my heart, I know Boy Dog is not the culprit. It’s not that he doesn’t look guilty. He always looks guilty. But, truthfully, I don’t think he’s smart enough to figure it out.

So here I am, with two missing shoelaces and no idea of how all of it happened. It’s funny how, after COVID and months of protests and sorrow over how entrenched systemic racism is in my country and months of people screaming their political beliefs and more COVID and job stress and election stress and worries over money and struggling to find toilet paper and paper towels and more COVID … Well, it’s funny that the problem of the missing shoelaces is what has me completely and utterly flummoxed. “Solve the problems that you can solve,” people say. And this is wise advice. It makes me feel uneasy, however. If I can’t even find two shoelaces, how will I ever solve any problems at all?

I’m sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for all of it. Perhaps the cat really did do it. Perhaps she is building her own Fortress of Solitude in the unfinished part of the basement. She does love to spend a lot of time in there. And she needed my shoelaces to hold everything together. Or we have Borrowers. Which, actually, would not be a terrible thing. I quite like the idea of that. It’s like there would be a little bit of charm left in the world if this was true. Or there’s a ghost. Not a scary ghost or a mean ghost. Just a ghost that needs to borrow a shoelace or two. You know, for walking around at night.

I suppose I will never know exactly what happened to my shoelaces. But I do know this: I had best start keeping better track of my shoes. And everything on them! Oh, and I need to remind Alexa to put shoelaces on the list.

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