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Yesterday I spent eight hours of the twenty-four hour day searching for my birth certificate. No, I didn’t need it for a specific reason and I didn’t go into this expedition with that thought on my mind, but in the event of trying to lay my hands on two missing insurance policies, I came across H’s birth certificate I had meant to re-file a few months ago. That’s when the wheels started turning.

I found the folder marked ‘Important Personal Family Papers’ empty. Birth certificates should probably come under that heading, don’t you think? Where is my birth certificate? And where is Andrew’s? I was pretty sure I knew where Andrew’s was and H’s was in my hand.

I slipped H’s birth certificate and his original tattered social security card in the folder and proceeded to shuffle through files looking for mine with the thought of those insurance papers lingering in the in the back of my mind.

Sorting through that box of unorganized files I found slips of paper, old newspapers, and artifacts I wondered why I ever kept. When you come across a newspaper dated twelve years ago it’s disturbing not knowing why it’s in your file drawer. Short of reading the whole paper until you come across the article you might have saved it for, there’s nothing you can do except put it in your TBR (to be read) file. This saved a little time, but now I have a folder of old newspapers to sort out. How long would it have actually taken me to cut the important article out when it is published? A lot less time than the two hours it will probably take me to decipher this code!

Once the box of files had been thoroughly stripped of all nonsense, I pulled down a big storage box from the top shelf of the closet thinking my birth certificate could be in it. After having moved so much in the past years I could actually see it in my mind’s eye sitting nestled in that box because it’s the one I always put important papers in before I got organized and had a file drawer. Yeah, I just said organized didn’t I? You know what I mean.

The trip down memory lane had been unplanned and unexpected as long forgotten pictures spilled from the box. There was one of my dad and Andrew I had been looking for and a few of Jessie when she was a baby. I don’t have as many picture of young Jessie because she was the fourth in line of girls and the baby from my first marriage. We have oodles of Andrew because he was a whole different ballgame being a boy and H’s first and only child.

As I made individual files for the kids I snapped pictures of pictures and sent through text to them knowing  they would get as much of a kick out of seeing these mementos again as I did. I wonder if Terri and Kerri would like to have their baby teeth I had rescued from the tooth fairy. By the time the others came along I guess I had given up that practice – or didn’t have the time. You know how it is with the first child. You save everything! I found cards and letters from Amie that made me cry (happy tears) when I read them. She was always good at that. That little trip down memory lane took some time and effort, but was a nice break in my search.

After having no luck in my search in that box, I went through the folders in my desk drawers. Andrew’s orange folder was in there and in the pocket of it was his birth certificate just as I had expected. This folder has everything important for Andrew in it or written on it. It’s orange, hence, ‘Andrew’s Orange Folder.’ I started it when he went off to college. It has his student ID number, financial aid info, passwords and user names to his different accounts, his social security number, drivers’ license number, and just about every phone number to Troy’s offices I may need. With all this info there isn’t a square inch of blank space on the front of that folder and it’s bursting it’s seams with papers. If he needs it – I have it. Heaven forbid if he were to keep up with all that info himself.

Still no sign of my birth certificate though. I gathered all my files and boxes and put them back in their rightful places in the Philadelphia Room and before leaving the room I picked up a pile of papers stacked on the dresser by the door. That’s where I found my birth certificate! Shoved between some recipes and an envelope containing some legal papers I should probably keep. I vaguely remember placing them on that pile when I took H’s out a few months ago and telling myself I would refile them when I finished with his. Now we all know that never happened!

They say when you lose something it’s always going to be found in the last place you look, but I had literally exhausted all my options and there was no other place it could be. I never did find those two insurance policies, but I can honestly say my files are now in order!



About Elle Knowles

Elle Knowles lives in the Florida Panhandle with her husband and off-at-college-most-of-the-time son. She has four daughters, one son, and eleven beautiful grandchildren. 'Crossing the Line' is her first novel. The sequel 'What Line' is a work in progress. Recently published is Coffee-Drunk Or Blind - a nonfiction story of homesteading in the Alaska wilderness with her parents and four siblings, told through letters by her mother and remembered accounts from the family.

11 responses »

  1. You’re turning into a regular Sherlock Holmes. I just lost my purse when it was sitting in my lap, so I’m guessing your items are just allegedly lost.

    You said you were whining, not really, but I would exchange whine, for wine just to be safe. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d love for you to come help organize me! I have lost my social security card 😳!
    Afraid I need to go get another… I’ll put it on my endless list of things to do 😁


    Liked by 1 person

    • You don’t want me to organize! I thought I had lost mine too but found it in the mess when I was looking for insurance polices…that wasn’t even in my mind. A nice surprise!


  3. See, being Italian, I would immediately pray to St. Anthony to help me find it, and as bizarre as I know it sounds, it would turn up. That said…you can get another one easily enough.

    Going through piles can be daunting, and of course all kinds of things turn up that will fuel your writing. Like misplacing your birth certificate produced this marvelous essay.

    You should misplace more things Elle. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve just described the rabbit holes I often go down when I’m looking for something! I’m glad you found your birth certificate, but also that you enjoyed your various trips down memory lane while you were at it! I’m curious about your term “Philadelphia room” – I’ve never heard that before. Is that a thing?

    Liked by 1 person


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