It is an all-too-familiar sense of unease. A nagging feeling that manifests itself at the back of my mind and insidiously wiggles its way right to the front. The knowledge that even though I don't yet know what, something is not quite right.
And then, regardless of where I am (at work, in the mall, on an aeroplane), I'll embark on what has become a well-rehearsed charade. I always start the search methodically, slowly working my way through my bag, hoping quickly and painlessly to locate whatever it is that I've lost this time. When this proves fruitless, I begin to panic (hands start to shake slightly, face flushes red) as I rifle with increased speed but less care through myriad belongings, desperate to touch upon the one that I've lost.
And what a sweet sense of relief when I do; what a rush of gratitude to the universe when the glint of silver in the deepest, darkest crevice proves to be those elusive house keys.
Of course this doesn't always happen. I've never thought of myself as being a careless person, but over the past few months I've misplaced several belongings. This spate of losses has included a BlackBerry (abandoned in the back of a taxi on the way to work and, thankfully, returned to me a few hours later); a much-loved jacket (left behind in the cinema, never to be seen again), the same BlackBerry (now lost forever in a taxi in the UK) and a book that I was halfway through (carelessly left by the pool and found some time later, waterlogged and unreadable).
The other day though, things took a more serious turn. Returning home after an exercise class in Safa Park, I knew that something wasn't right. And yet the usual suspects (phone, wallet, keys) were all in place. It was only when I happened to glance at my left hand that I realised my ring was not. Cue feelings of utter dread, sheer panic and an acute sense of nausea.
A quick scout around the house proved fruitless, as did a rummage through my rucksack. I spent the journey to the park fighting back tears and berating myself for forgetting to take it off before exercising. The next hour was a torturous one, spent trawling up and down a 50m by 50m square of grass, head bowed, eyes focused on the ground.
Rather touchingly, several people asked me what I was doing and, sensing my distress, joined me in my search. I struggle to describe the sense of relief and unadulterated happiness that I felt when I spotted that familiar silver band, half-hidden underneath a pebble. It was, I'm well aware, an extremely lucky find. I have learnt my lesson and intend to take very good care of all my belongings from now on.