Not all of October has been sunshine and rainbows. Actually none of it, since this is Seattle October – it’s been more foggy mornings, hazy afternoons, fallen leaves covering the sidewalks and the occasional bitterly cold wind cutting through my five layers of clothing. Yes, layering is still in – look it up, people.

In addition to our first newsworthy winter storm (admittedly a very low bar for our drama-starved local news stations) I’ve also been brewing a storm of my own since early October, inside my head. As the chaos of this storm has grown with each torturous day and each insomnia-filled night, so has my sanity quickly but silently slipped from my grasp like so many grains of sand pouring out between my outstretched fingers. Lacking clarity of purpose and with no clean space inside my mind on which to organize my jumble of memories, dreams and hallucinations into coherent thoughts, I have been drifting through each day a ragged, hollow shell of a man, consumed in my own anguish.

For you see, I have lost my iPod. Picture a world without music. Like a movie that has no soundtrack, mine has been a journey that lacks accompaniment. My secret weapon for maintaining sanity amidst a tumultuous life, my crutch, my companion, my addiction… stripped from me by cruel fate and a messy apartment.

I don’t truly know when it happened. I’ve re-examined every flash of recollection in my mind so many times that the true memories are intermingled now with both the hopes and the fears, creating a fable that is woven so tightly I have lost faith it will ever be unraveled to separate the yarns of truth from the red herrings spun into gold. There was a day, however, that sticks in the flurries of my mind. A day when I broke routine, when I didn’t put my iPod in the usual place. I needed a little extra 160-beats-per-minute fix that evening and indulged in such on the walk to my parking lot, rather than tucking my friend safely into my bag. When I switched from “walk” to “drive” I moved it from pocket to cupholder – still within arm’s reach. At home it was transported safely into my room, unloaded on the bed along with the other contents of my pockets – or at least, that’s one of the clips played so much in my mind that I’m convinced it must have happened that way. I stacked it with the other things I intended to pack for vacation the next day.

A day went by before I packed to leave, and on that day it was nowhere. I settled on traveling without it – against my better judgement – and left for a week empty of both hand and heart. When I returned the memories were foggy, the clutter piled even higher, and the last known location of the iPod lost deeper and deeper in my mind’s abyss.

Weeks have gone by and the detachment has grown severe. Each day I cease to function a little more, slowly but continuously wilting like a plant denied the sun, retreating into a confused malaise of mumbling, self-doubt and misanthropy. In a rare moment of clarity today I determined to cut my losses, to sever the bleeding limb and cauterize the wound to salvage what of life’s blood still flows in my mind’s musical veins. I found another iPod on ebay, and bid on it, and won. The same model as before, a 60gb iPod Photo, far from the cutting edge but a seamless replacement for the missing puzzle block in my life whose lack has rendered the puzzle’s image irrecognizable.

My purgatory has a limit, and it is marked by a UPS tracking number.