A dull ache for a sharp object

When Mom’s pocket knife gets confiscated in Italy

 

paul-felberbauer-672975-unsplash
Photo: Paul Felberbauer on Unsplash

When the security employee at the gate asked me to step aside, I remembered. My pocket knife. Oh no, my pocket knife, I thought, realizing I had left it earlier in the little cosmetic bag inside my purse. I had forgotten to check it with my luggage and now I was at the gate and my knife was going away.

The uniformed employee explained in her thick Venetian accent, “We must take this from you. If it’s you really need, you go downstairs, fill out the form, and it be sent to you.”

Standing there, I knew we wouldn’t have time to make those arrangements. And besides, it wasn’t a valuable possession. But then again, it was.

For twenty-five years, I had carried that pocket knife.

Back in 1990, I had chosen it from a mound of identical ones heaped in a small cardboard box next to a cash register in the sporting goods department at a Kmart in Topeka, Kansas. It had cost my boyfriend (now my husband) an entire dollar. It featured a steel blade, a wooden casing, and bronze hardware that over the years, had polished to a golden shine from being nestled in my purse for so long.

Similar to how candy bars are placed at checkout stands to captivate small children, that box of $1 knives held equal allure for the fishermen and hunters who visited that department. Not that I was one of them. We had gone to the store to use the restrooms tucked away behind the restaurant at the back of the store. As he waited on me, he spotted the knives and bought one for me.

“Keep it in your purse. It’ll come in handy,” he told me. He was right.

That little knife had been many places… all over Missouri and Kansas, Nashville, Asheville, several cities in Maine and Vermont, Columbus, Atlanta, Sarasota, Highland Park, Phoenix and other Arizona locals, multiple sights in the Los Angeles area, Oregon and Washington State, Cape Town and other South African cities, DC, New York City, Taos, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Dallas, New Orleans. Over the years, we had journeyed across the country to attend annual family reunions, exhibit my husband’s ceramic art at festivals, and accompany him as he served artist residencies.

And now, its final destination would be Venice, Italy, where it would be left behind, a hindrance to a quick departure, discarded inside a gray plastic tub under the counter.

I regret leaving that silly little knife because it wasn’t just a pocket knife. It was a symbol of family life and motherhood and had been more often used for non-cutting tasks. That knife spread peanut butter on sandwiches many more times that it ever cut into a fish or snipped a cord on a tent or tarp. It was this mother’s indispensable tool. As such, it was always easy to locate.

My son and daughter both knew I carried a pocket knife and I passed it back to them at least once or twice on every road trip we took over the years. Need to break open a family-sized plastic bag of M&Ms? Get Mom’s knife. Opening a DVD? Get Mom’s knife. Got a stray thread hanging from your hem? Ask Mom to hand back her pocket knife.

Just prior to leaving Venice, as I buckled up inside the plane, regretting my decision to leave my knife, I recalled how six years earlier, I had flown from Johannesburg to Atlanta with a knife my son had purchased as a souvenir. Despite its massive four-inch blade, he had somehow forgotten to pack it in a checked bag. I offered to stow it inside my purse, warning him it would likely be confiscated at our first departure.

Nope. X-rays and inspections by hand never discovered it. Of course, that would happen to a brand new knife without any peanut butter experience. And of course, that knife has since been long forgotten, I might add.

As for my knife, I have since replaced it, but the blade on my new one is narrower and not quite as functional as the one left in Venice. I mean, you can spread peanut butter on a slice of bread if you really want to, but it’s the not the same as my Kmart special.

I’m one of those people who feels sorry for the last Christmas tree on the lot. So it’s no surprise that I’m still feeling nostalgic for my lost pocket knife… a year and a half later.

Somewhere in Italy, it’s languishing in a gray bin of confiscated sharp objects. Maybe it’s been recycled by now. Maybe it’s been donated to a charity. Hopefully, it’s performing some mother’s mundane tasks, making her life a little easier, and definitely more memorable.


Had an experience similar to mine? Like this post, follow my blog, and feel to leave a comment about any precious object that’s drifted out of your life. Thanks for reading!

 

 

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6 thoughts on “A dull ache for a sharp object

  1. Donna Douglas September 18, 2018 / 9:04 pm

    Your dad had this same experience at KCI and lost a small white knife. Now we know what to get you for your birthday.

    Like

  2. Yeah, Another Blogger September 18, 2018 / 11:54 pm

    Hi Marilyn. Here’s something that’s somewhat related to your story: I’ve hung onto a few old shirts and other clothes that I long ago stopped wearing, just to keep them in my life.

    Have a great rest of the week.
    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

    • marilynyung September 19, 2018 / 1:16 am

      Yes! Thanks for commenting! I’m thinking of writing about various favorite things that I will never get rid of. Really cool pepper mill. Old leather jacket that I will probably be buried in. The coffee cup I’ve used for 10+ years. You should write about those shirts.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Darin Johnston September 21, 2018 / 12:40 pm

    Not going to lie, the picture drew me in! I was thinking, “What in the world could all those pocket knives have to do with her blog??”. Now I know! 🙂

    As for an older object leaving our lives, our minivan was something we’d NEVER felt nostalgic about. It was 13 years old, had a couple of rust spots on it, was dinging from the second deer it had been driven into, the inside was showing signs of age, and it had 185,000 miles on it (135,000 of those we drove).

    But when we traded it off, it was almost hard. That’s the van the four of us traveled to the Grand Canyon in, that we traveled to Door County in, that we travel to six years of cross country meets, swim meets, choir and band concerts, along along any number of other events. We laughed and cried as a family in that van. While we needed to walk away, it was almost hard, considering it was just a minivan.

    So yes, I get you! 🙂

    Like

    • marilynyung September 21, 2018 / 11:37 pm

      You get it exactly! It’s so hard to say goodbye to the tangible things that we associate with memories. Thanks for reading and commenting! Your comment was a nice thing to read on my phone as I left late from school after a very long week.

      Liked by 1 person

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