When I was 10, I got a Levi’s denim jacket for my birthday. My dream present; what I had desperately wanted. I was so proud, wearing it out with my friends. Then I guess I got all overexcited and left it on the back of my chair in the Hard Rock Café (height of sophistication for a birthday outing at this time). My parents were furious. Fortunately, it was still there when I tearfully ran back inside for it.
I was lucky that time, but since then I have made a habit of losing things and then insisting that I never lose things. I’m coming to terms with it now. Only just.
So, I was heartened to read M Train and discover that Patti Smith seems to have the same problem. I both felt for her and considered myself silently vindicated every time she left her favourite camera on a park bench or mysteriously misplaced a beloved coat.
At its heart, it is a book about grief – a beautiful and incredibly affecting one – so it is fitting that it should focus so much on things that have been lost. I noticed that lost things pop up throughout the book, with varying degrees of significance.
Here are some things that I have lost, which I still think about. Ones that were really lost, not things stolen, given away, or lent and never returned. Lost.
My favourite umbrella, the best I have ever owned: left on a park bench, outside a railway station, waiting for a date.
A very nice pair of black lacy knickers: left in a hotel bed in Ireland. I still have the matching bra and a new pair of knickers that don’t quite match.
My two favourite necklaces, which I used to wear every day: left in the changing room of a bridal shop, trying on bridesmaids’ dresses before my friend Lou’s wedding.
An implausibly long brown scarf, which actually my ex-boyfriend lost, along with a brown cardigan that also belonged to me. It’s funny, because he lost it once at a gig in Glasgow and somehow managed to track it down and have it posted back to me, but then later lost it again much closer to home, for good this time.