The Paperclip

Monday, August 16, 2021

I want to tell you a little story about a paperclip. 

It's not a particularly special paperclip; it came in one of those desk supply kits you can get that also contain binder clips and sticky notes. Truth be told, in the role of paperclips in the traditional sense, it's not that great. It's small, it's coated in plastic, and it's easily bent. It came in a collection that also housed pink paperclips, so, being gray, it's not even a great color. 

But while it is lacking in its ability to, you know, clip paper together, it has proven to shine in another area: constancy. 

I bet you didn't guess I was going to say that. 

You see, several months ago now, the small piece of plastic that was the outer button that allowed us to turn our baby monitor on and off broke. Broke beyond repair. However, we could still turn the baby monitor on and off if we could find a little item to use to press down on the inner mechanism. I told Joe I had a glass jar full of paperclips that used to sit on my desk at school, so I ran upstairs and grabbed one out of the jar. 

That's where the journey of this particular paperclip really began. 

For a while, we clipped it to the back of the monitor. Until we found out -- or, more accurately, Bert showed me one day -- that the metal paperclip would stick to the front of the monitor like a magnet. It wasn't very strong, but it was convenient, and it did the job. 

Then one day, Joe was like, "Where's the paperclip?" We discovered that somewhere between upstairs and downstairs, the paperclip had gotten lost. Truly, we were surprised that flimsy thing had lasted as long as it did. It spent overnights charging upstairs and daytime performing its duties downstairs. Up and down it was carried -- in hands, in pockets, in laundry baskets. Losing it was inconvenient, but I figured I'd just get around to picking another one out of the jar. 

But I didn't have to. 

The next day I was pulling laundry out of the dryer, and guess what I found just laying there? The paperclip! I showed it to Joe, and we were both amazed that somehow that little thing had turned up. We stuck it back on the monitor where it went back to doing its job. Until it got lost again. 

For months we have been in a cycle where we have lost and then found this one tiny gray paperclip. It has turned up on rugs, under the couch, under a dresser, in the middle of our bedroom carpet. After about the third time of losing it, the next time we lost it, I just said to Joe, "I'm not worried. It'll turn up." And it always has. Whether it takes a day or a week, I never replace the lost paperclip because inevitably, we will always find it. It turns up every time and keeps turning up. At one point in late May as we were waiting for the arrival of Hank and going through a lot with Bert, we found the lost paperclip yet again, and I said to Joe, "This paperclip is the most constant and dependable thing in our lives." Even now, sometimes, when I'm feeling a little lost or defeated, I think of that little paperclip and how it just won't quit, and I'm like -- okay, paperclip. You keep showing up, and so will I. 

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