A Lost Umbrella in Malasia

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“Dragon Umbrella”  8″x 10″ mixed media

I lost my umbrella in Malaysia.

I noticed its absence as soon as I started packing and a small panic set in. It was the morning of our departure and after four days of eating, exploring, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves, it was time to leave Penang.The hotel room at the Apollo Inn was small and it took no more than two minutes to determine that my mind was not playing tricks on me. The umbrella was nowhere to be found.

“When did you have it last?” my husband Jimmy asked helpfully. I worked hard to remember. The previous day was already a blur of experiences.

He continued with the usual sleuthing as I looked under the bed for the fourth time. “Where did we go yesterday? I bet it’s at that coffee shop where we had the lattes.”

I didn’t think so and my heart sank.

Who cares about a stupid umbrella anyway? I was in Asia after all, the land of umbrellas. But this particular one was not so easily replaced. It was a child’s umbrella, petite sized and portable, but it provided ample enough shade for me. It fit perfectly in my backpack, just its little curved head peeking out from between the zippers. Best of all, it was decorated with little cartoon dragons, flying happily to and fro in a field of bright red, wings outstretched. From the outside their bodies looked bright blue and the wings white but from my vantage point underneath, they were solid black. I thought of them as my ninja guardians. It was like a magic trick.

My dragon umbrella traveled with me from the United States to Southeast Asia. Twice. It protected me from the sun and rain far better than any hat. My trusty companion, it also served as a pointer and if necessary, a defense against unruly dogs. So much more than functional, I associated it with the many places we went together and the many adventures I had under its protection. I must admit I was truly attached.

Travelers by necessity have few possessions and perhaps that makes what they do have all the more valuable. But I’m learning to accept that being on the road requires you to let go of things along the way. Objects are lost on trains and buses. Items precious to you disappear in seat cushions and down bathroom sinks. Beloved books are read and purposely left behind to lighten the load.

Occasionally it is not a something but a someone that comes up missing. Friendships are tested when there is a lot of coming and going and the distance great.  The thread can get pretty thin. Fortunately, hope springs eternal when it comes to human beings. I hope I haven’t lost anyone for good.

That’s not the case when it comes to my little red umbrella with the flying dragons. It is lost to me forever on the island of Penang.

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