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The Borrowers

Lonely cactus container seeks original owner. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

We all know those people, the Borrowers. The people who borrow something but then forget to give it back. Those pesky people who keep forgetting to return someone else’s belongings but then have somehow incorporated the stuff into their permanent collection. When a favorite sweater goes missing, I can blame it on the mysterious borrower. I never think it is a deliberate act, just a bothersome one. I don’t mind loaning out my things. It’s nice to be able to help or that anyone thinks I own something useful.

One of my children recently loaned out a bunch of clothes. We all know Adirondack weather changes in a heartbeat, which leads to passing out sweaters and sweatshirts. I asked if the friends had given the clothes back. Of course, they had returned them. Those are polite children raised by polite parents. How righteous I am. How bold I am in my proclamation regarding polite behavior. Then there is the humbling moment when I realize I am the Borrower.

Recently I purged some house clutter. I slowly started seeing a pattern emerge while wading through heaps and piles. Books, a food container, a rodent trap were all things I hadn’t returned. You’ve probably seen your stuff on my shelves taken care of like it’s my own. When visiting, did you think to yourself you used to have a copy of that book? You know who you are. You are all too polite to ask for your own belongings back. I’ve probably magnanimously given you baked goods in your own container. (Let’s call it ours now.) My husband shares tools with various people. He says he has things in his shop belonging to others but becomes incorporated into the friendship pod. One person has a tile cutter, while another has a torque wrench. I hope no one needs to own more than one large rodent trap. Things are stored and circle until the next project.

I justify by thinking it’s only a few objects, but I’m still guilty. I borrow with the best of intentions. I want to complete the book or try the recipe. I guess we all do. Perhaps my lesson to learn is to take another hard look at myself before I judge other people. I can still judge if I feel the need, but I’ll be doing it while passing a plate of cookies on a borrowed platter.

In case you think you’re missing objects that are somehow living at my house, I’m sorry. I know exactly what I need to return. I may wrap the various objects and give them back during the holidays. It seems fitting and the ultimate regifting.

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