31 August 2010

Lost and Found

Many of you know that we recently dropped our daughter off at Indiana University. Well, we didn't exactly drop her off and leave. Since IU is quite a distance from our house, we helped her move her into her dorm and stayed at a nearby hotel for the weekend while she auditioned for drumline.

After setting up her dorm room on Friday, Daughter hung out with friends while Spouse and I enjoyed an evening out. As we were headed back to the hotel around 12:30 AM, I received a text from Daughter:

"WHERE'S MY BEAR?!?!?!?"

It seems that in the craziness of unpacking and arranging her dorm room, we hadn't noticed that her Very Special White Bear was MISSING. This bear had ridden all the way to Indiana on her lap but somehow hadn't made it to her dorm room. This was indeed disconcerting. Bear was her security! Yet there she was, all alone in her dorm room for the first night of her college career -- without him.

But where could he be?

Daughter had stayed with us in the hotel on Thursday night. I was certain Bear must be somewhere in the hotel room. It would be easy to miss him among the white sheets of her bed.

But when I got back to the hotel room, Bear was nowhere to be found.

At 12:45 AM, I found myself in the hotel parking garage, rummaging through our SUV. No bear.

Up and down the dark parking ramp I went, looking under the cars and even in the garbage cans. No bear. My stomach began to hurt.

I walked through the hotel courtyard where an extended family sat around the tables, chatting and laughing -- and clearly unaware that a Very Special White Bear was missing. At one end of the table, I spotted a baby carrier and passed by it twice, peering in to see if the baby was clutching Bear. No such luck.

I stopped at the hotel desk and asked the night manager if anyone had turned in a bear. No, they hadn't. My heart sank.

"Could you please, please double check? You see, my daughter is alone in her dorm room without her bear. We MUST find it."

No bear. I was just sick.

Up and down the hallways of the hotel I went. I looked in the elevators, the lobby, anywhere we might have walked. No bear.

Finally, I had to call Daughter and report that tragically, Bear was nowhere to be found. I could hear the ache in her voice.

Since he was clearly not in the hotel, my fear was that Bear had somehow fallen out of the SUV at a rest stop and was still lying there, alone and forlorn. (Some of you may recall that I cannot stand the thought of stuffed animals lying out in the elements. If you doubt me, read this post from a awhile back.) I pushed that terrible thought out of my mind, hoping instead that some pleasant little child (with clean hands) had picked him up and taken him home to love.

I instructed Daughter to check at the dorm desk in the morning. Perhaps we had dropped him as we carried items up to her room that day. But our hopes were dimming.

I'm sure Daughter had trouble sleeping that night without her bear. So did I. I woke up repeatedly wondering how we could have lost track of something that was so important to her. What did it mean? Was there some symbolism in this unfortunate event?

The next morning, I went down to the lobby to fetch a much needed latte. On a whim, I stopped by the hotel desk where a different manager was on duty. "Excuse me, I asked about this last night, but I just wanted to double check...Has anyone found a bear?"

The manager smiled. "Oh, a white bear with red roses?"

"YES! That's it!" I jumped up straight up in the air, nearly spilling my latte.

She retrieved Bear from a back room and handed him across the counter. I thanked her profusely.

"You'll never guess where we found him."

"Where?" I asked.

"In the laundry chute. Housekeeping must have scooped him up with the sheets."

What an adventure for the little white bear! A trip down the laundry chute was quite a memorable way to start his college experience. He was very lucky they found him before laundry day, or he might not have fared so well.

After calling my daughter with the good news, I headed down the street to the local bakery to buy some scones. I was waiting in the Saturday morning crowd at the counter when I realized I was still clutching the bear.

A grown woman carrying a teddy bear probably attracted the attention of the locals, but it didn't matter to me. Bear was found. Daughter was happy. I had a good feeling about this college thing.

Smiling, I tucked the bear securely inside my purse and headed back to the hotel with my bag of scones, just in time for the next text:

Where's my retainer?


Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Great you found bear! That is an awful feeling. And, it's comforting to know they're vigilant about changing the sheets! It's the bedspreads I worry about...


Also, I'm impressed that such a well loved bear is still so white and bright!

Judy said...

Wow. What a story. I'm so glad that the BEAR was found. It had to be very difficult for you and Bailey not knowing where BEAR was. Now she can settle into the college life with that episode behind her. So did the retainer show up as well?

Janet said...

Me, too! It was scary there for awhile!

After an extensive search, we found the retainer back home in her bedroom! lol

Heather said...

Yay! I'm glad the bear was found! And I admit I got a chuckle about you taking him to the bakery with you. :)

Maureen said...

Ahahaha about the retainer!

Oh I am SO glad you found Bear! You sound just like me Janet... I would have been sick too. And yes, we must not add to the population of curbside discarded stuffed toys!


KarenSue said...

tee hee, soooo glad you found Bear!

Cheri said...

Whew! I was going to cry at the end if Bear wasn't found...seriously...
We thought Christopher's penguin, Flippers, might have fallen out of the van when we made a stop one day. We had scoured the house looking for him and just couldn't find him. I was just sick b/c it was raining cats and dogs by the time we knew he was missing. I don't even remember now where we found him but he was actually in the house! TG:)