Over the course of one week in January 2000, I lost and found my wallet three times — in a bar, in a movie theater, somewhere between the subway and my apartment building on Cumberland Street in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Kind people rescued the wallet for me: a bartender, an usher and two teenagers. The third time, I didn’t deserve it back, if I ever did. The teenagers who ran after me (“Lady, laaady!”) persisted even when I walked faster through the night to avoid them.
Since then, I’ve lost and found countless things, among them a signed 1992 Lucinda Williams “Sweet Old World” poster, my cat and my mind (both returned a little underweight). “The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” Elizabeth Bishop writes in her sly poem “One Art.” It begins with lost car keys, graduates to lost places and names, then to houses, rivers, continents, ending with the loss of a beloved.
It doesn’t matter if we’re good at it; there’s no getting out of losing. It is part of the human condition. We are transient beings, perhaps never more so than when we are in transit. And if we’re traveling by airplane? Well, forget it.
And we do. iPhones, iPads, computers, eyeglasses (sun, bifocals, trifocals), jackets, scarves, gloves, belts, shoes. All manner of identity — green cards, passports, birth certificates. A variety of Very Important Documents. So many wedding rings! The number of people trying to get unmarried by tossing their wedding rings into the trays rolling through security screening may, or may not, surprise you.
The JFK Airport Lost and Found listings are reliquary in nature, its objects imbued with sacredness by the seekers. It is a purgatory of desire and the lack implicit in desire.
You can read these appeals until you become one of the lost items in need of finding. Eventually we will lose our hair, our teeth, our memory, our dignity, our way, our very lives, but these 300 some pages of items important enough for people to want back is a testament to the search. What are we really searching for? This is the shadow that haunts this museum and its exhibit of loss, yearning and love.
Item No. 1082801
NO WORKERS, NO BAGS AND HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE WORLD GETTING NO HELP.
Hello, After sitting on the runway for 4 hours and then waiting in Baggage claim aisle, only to see no bags come for hours and hours, I had to return to care for a family member and leave my luggage behind. Please find my luggage and mail to my house. Last nights disaster at Terminal One was inexcusable. There were no workers, no bags and hundreds of people from around the world getting no help. Please help!
Item No. 1081027
BEFORE HE RETURNS FROM THE HOLIDAYS (OH MY GOODNESS)
Oh my goodness my boyfriend is going to be so upset with me if I don’t track this down. I left his Nintendo switch on a China southern flight into JFK. I was in row 48, I believe in seat A, at the window. I have not broken it to him that I left it behind and I’m hoping that it can be returned to me before he returns from the holidays with his family. I appreciate any and all help.
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Item No. 1082211
PLEASE, HAVE YOU FOUND ANYTHING?
I am writing on behalf of my partner. She may have lost her J1 visa paperwork at Terminal 4 Gate A2 around 22.00 pm. Please, have you found anything?
Item No. 1082940
THE WORST OBJECT I CAN IMAGINE LOSING
I lost a very important journal which contains the beginning to a novel I am writing, as well as other very important personal writings. I disembarked, got onto my connecting flight, and suddenly realized it. I ran back to the original gate, where the delta agents searched the plane but said that the cleaners must have taken it off the flight first. They told me how to file a claim with Delta lost and found but no one ever mentioned that JFK had its own lost and found. A friend just told me this exists. It was a devastating lost—the worst object I can imagine losing because it is genuinely irreplaceable.
Item No. 1083932
IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME
It is a Ticketmaster ticket for marshmello at Bill Graham Civic in San Francisco. The date on it is Friday Jan 12 2018. Got lost somewhere in the TSA on terminal 5 since that’s the only time I remember it being out and didn’t realize until January 9, 2018.
Item No. 1081908
IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, PART 2
My son graduated from the Marines today. It is a large photograph of him in his Marine uniform. When our flight arrived at gate 51 I walked straight to the terminal ahead. My sister who was carrying the photo places it on one of the benches closest to the window. I believe the photo could have fallen beneath the bench.
Item No. 1083528
A LOVE LETTER TO MY MOTHER-IN-LAW
my mother-in-law who is old forgot her carry-on under the wheelchair she has no name and no address only in the front pocket in some photos of the family the suitcase and two wheels light brown colors with other colors with enough flowers is a suitcase with Old look.
Item No. 1078714
OWNER RELIED ON WHEELCHAIR PUSHER
Lost Rasary beads and a prayer bracelet at the TSA checkpoint. Owner relied on the wheelchair pusher to pick up belongings and they were left behind. Very old…*NOT* real gold or silver. Tremendous sentimental value. Owner is in hospital and could really use them.
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