The art of losing things

As we reach the summit of Cradle Mountain and the snow and heavy winds hit, the weightlessness in my pocket makes itself known. The views are spectacular, but I don’t care anymore. The whole way up this mountain, I’d been acutely aware that I had the lone car key – our only passageway back to civilisation – stored snugly in my pocket. Just like that, it was gone.



Cradle Mountain, Tasmania.


All my life, I’ve been a loser. Those many hallmarks of everyday life – keys, wallets, money, mobile phones, headphones, chargers and so on – enter and leave my life quickly. People who know me well often hesitate when I ask to borrow something. People who don’t know me well find out fast that hesitation is wise. My locksmith loves me.

But like anything in life that you do a lot, after a while, you get better at it.

For starters, passports are the worst item to lose. I’ve lost two in the last five years. Standard lost passport fees mean that today a new one will set me back upwards of $700. The financial loss of a passport aside, the application process is long and painful. It requires multiple trips to the post and passport offices, and worse still, passport photos double as mug shots – acting as a permanent record of your hopelessness.

Experience has taught me that the best way not lose your passport is to not lose your driver’s license. It takes weeks for VicRoads to get a new one out to you and the requirement to visit the centre itself doesn’t exactly speed the process up. During this time, your passport, which must be used as ID, is constantly put in harm’s way.

The best way to avoid losing a license is: don’t leave home with it, if you don’t need it. This rule of thumb applies to any important cards that require time and money to replace. Before leaving home, I’ll empty my wallet of any valuables I know I won’t need that day. Eggs are best kept in separate baskets.

Less important items like loyalty cards, business cards and coins should stay in your wallet. These make your wallet bulkier and harder to lose. When you lose things often enough, you learn not to bother too much with sentimentality. The more worth you give an item, the greater the pain is when you lose it.

Keys are relatively cheap to replace. However, they’re also a big pain to lose, for all those times you get locked outside. Be prepared. Always keep a book outside near where the spare key is supposed to be. I recommend choosing a title that is easy to return to over an extended period of time. The Beach by Alex Garland is my current pick. It’s a long but enjoyable read, with lots of chapters. The theme of anti-materialism is a nice added bonus.

If you can – before your keys go missing – make them loud. My current house key is attached to a big orange chain, a beeper device and several colourful key rings. This is the third set I’ve had like this, and each has lasted a lot longer than the standard key and key ring combo.



My house key.


Smartphones cost a lot to replace, but they’re becoming harder to lose. In this day and age, we’re always on them and this serves as a constant check on their whereabouts. But this means that the risk of losing a phone increases dramatically when it is low on battery or dead. If your phone does end up under the seat of a couch cushion or on the floor of a cab somewhere in Melbourne, a ringtone communicates to the nearest person that it is both there to be found and also that it is loved. Bring your charger with you everywhere you go. This will go missing sometimes too, but a replacement charger is a small price to pay compared to the cost of a new phone.

Some items don’t warrant as much concern as people like to give them. My favourite item to lose is my bankcard. They are free to replace and so there’s really no need to feel any emotional pain when you lose one. Simply ring up the bank immediately, cancel it, and ask for a new one to be sent out to you. During a credit card application at my local branch around two years ago, a screen displayed the number of times I’d ordered replacement cards over my lifetime. The teller was shocked (the list went off the screen) but the bank no doubt understood my perspective. A replacement card is an investment on their part, which keeps you banking with them.

When the planets don’t align and a possession does go missing, an important rule is: don’t panic. Before anything else, you should distinguish between when a possession is actually lost and when a possession simply isn’t found yet.

Take, for example, my license that went missing earlier this year. I looked in my wallet and it wasn’t there. Not lost yet. I searched my drawers and my desk, and it wasn’t there. Not lost yet. I searched across the whole house, under every couch cushion and in every pile of clothing. Now it was lost. And only then did I feel crap about it.



In this instance, my license turned up in the mailbox a few days later.


An item that is actually lost is an item that is in none of the places you can logically account for. An item that isn’t found yet is an item that wasn’t in the first place you looked.

And so, on Cradle Mountain, I strived to keep my cool. The weightlessness in my pocket kick-started a thought process, accompanied by only mild panic. The car key – logically – could be in one of only two locations. The first location was next to a snowman that we took some pictures with and the second was on a rocky ledge where I had changed out of some clothing. Both about halfway up the mountain. The snowman proved unsuccessful, but the ledge had it. The car key, now found, while missing, was never actually lost.

And a missing car key on a mountain still beats a missing car key on a beach. If that happens, by all means panic. My advice: dig in circles, working outwards in a spiral.

Life with 2 names

Twenty six years and around eleven months ago, a zygote split in my mother’s womb, meaning that today there are two of me.

The result: In life, I easily confuse people – but I’ve got somebody I’m incredibly close to and have a lot in common with.

The twin bond is close to infallible. From shortly after conception, early experiences are mostly shared. I was born three minutes after my twin brother. Our first steps, teeth and words were all within a few days or weeks of each other. For our first few years, barely anyone could understand what we were saying – but we could understand each other. And in some baby photos, I wouldn’t know it’s me, if not for certain distinguishing outfits.



I’m the one on the right.


Being a twin is my version of normal. The correct term for a lone foetus that reaches full term is a singleton. Imagining my life as one is weird and I can’t really do it. From my earliest memories to my present self, I’ve always had my twin brother by my side and without him, I would be an entirely different person. For somebody without a twin, it’s the equivalent to imagining what your life would be like if you had a twin.

As you can probably guess, I share my birth date with my twin brother. This meant that growing up, we had joined children’s parties. This wasn’t a bad thing, especially since we always got our own cakes, but it did create a problem when it came to present time. While guests were always kind enough to fork out double for the occasion, presents were almost always identical. And so, parties became a race to open your present first, or else have the surprise ruined. The devoted friend who went to the trouble to buy unique presents for each of us earned a great deal of respect.

The benefit of the shared birthday revealed it’s worth at the 90s McDonald’s party. Back then, McDonald’s had a policy of offering the birthday child a choice of birthday present: a pass-the-parcel or a tour of the back of the restaurant. For single children, the choice must have been very hard. Twins were lucky enough to experience both.

Midway through primary school, the concept of individuality took shape. Up until that point, we were dressed the same, albeit in different colours. From this point on, until early adulthood, separate styles became mandatory. Before school, if either of us found the other to be wearing the same thing, conflict would follow. Never did we turn up to school dressed the same.

In High School, we developed entirely different wardrobes. An unspoken rule existed between us that said we couldn’t own the same item of clothing. This avoided the risk of accidental likeness on any given day and also bred an image of difference that went beyond the present. The clothing rule also led to the formation of a miniature marketplace between us, where money could be made. If one twin bought a stylish item that the other wanted, he could sell it well and truly above cost price, since the other twin wasn’t allowed to buy it in store.

It can be hard as a twin to assess your own individuality, but in our teenage years, I’d say we naturally developed very different identities. He played clarinet. I had a pet alien on the internet. He liked Eminem. I listened to Ray Charles. He gravitated towards relationships. I wasted hours drawing artwork in Microsoft paint. During this time, I would argue that our similarities weren’t much greater than those shared by ordinary siblings. Not counting looks, obviously.

But differences mean squat when you spend time in public together and a stranger suddenly screams out in excitement, “Twins!” But as a twin, you do reach a point of acceptance in life where you realise that it is weird for people the first time they meet you. I’ve been creeped out enough times in my own life by other sets of identical twins to appreciate this fact. It helps too that I once drunkenly mistook myself for my twin brother in a mirror, so can truly empathise with those who mix us up.


Too young to choose our own outfits.


Likeness carries with it the odd perk too. Not that long ago, I lost my ID, but had already made plans to go to a bar that night notorious for checking it. Usually, in this situation, I would just borrow my twin brother’s ID, but he planned on going to the same place. Deciding it was worth a shot, we presented the same ID for the both of us. The bouncer hesitated at first, stared at us for a while and waved us in.

Our likeness can also create the odd social issue. People who know me, but who don’t know about my twin, have occasionally run into him on the street and faced flat rejection. The flip side of this is those times I’ve run into somebody I’ve wanted to avoid and have simply pretended to be him. The stock standard set of twin questions strangers seem pre-programmed to ask still strikes at a certain nerve too.

Can you feel pain when he gets hurt? 
Have you ever swapped places?

Who is the evil one? 

For all the confusion and frustration being a twin has caused at different times in life, it’s still a very good deal. Having somebody who I can share just about anything with since he knows me so well, who will actually read my short stories when I send them to him and who can always provide me with a 3D example of how a jumper looks on me, is a very useful thing in life.

The life of the singleton isn’t appealing to me in the slightest, but then, neither is the life of the triplet.