As I was lin­ger­ing in front of the vit­rine of a shop in Cairo, a man offered me, as a gift, a carved scarab, the kind that are sold to tourists as sou­venirs; pre­sum­ably to entice me to make a pur­chase. But the bla­tant kind­ness in his expres­sion was unusu­al­ly com­pelling as he urged me, with­out words, to keep and safe­guard the tiny object. Here was a gen­uine and spon­ta­neous non-trans­ac­tion­al offer­ing, pressed into my hand with shin­ing eyes. I accept­ed it grate­ful­ly and put it in my coat pock­et. At the time I was wear­ing an inter­pre­ta­tion of a trench coat I had bought in New York, made of a camel gabar­dine fab­ric, but cut more like a dress­ing gown. It was a coat I wore a lot on account of its chameleon­ic qual­i­ties. Light­weight, beige for rain or shine, done or undone, I wore it every­where. And deep in my left pock­et lived the scarab charm. It had remained there since the day it was giv­en to me. Over and over I would find my hand in my pock­et touch­ing the stone sur­face of the scarab’s back, caress­ing the ridges of its shell and then flip­ping it in my fin­gers to stroke its smooth, flat under­bel­ly. After a while I began to devel­op an intense aware­ness of myself peri­od­i­cal­ly touch­ing the scarab. Every time my hand would feel it in my pock­et, which always depend­ed on my wear­ing that coat, I would be sur­prised by its pres­ence, even though I was count­ing on it. I would feel: here I am again touch­ing the scarab in my pock­et. This sen­sa­tion repeat­ed itself count­less times over many years, nev­er dimin­ish­ing in inten­si­ty. In fact, the con­tin­u­ous rep­e­ti­tion of the sen­sa­tion added a new dimen­sion to the expe­ri­ence, the aware­ness of a con­stant return to a spe­cif­ic state. Touch­ing the scarab pro­voked an echo in my body that my mind would fas­ten on for as long as the con­tact was held. Remov­ing my hand from my pock­et, I would car­ry on with my day. Some­times I would mar­vel at the scarab’s tenac­i­ty through all the times I balled up my coat and stuffed it in a bag, threw it on a sur­face, or draped it upside down over a coat stand. The more the years passed, the more its per­sis­tence amazed me. Then one day I lost my coat for­ev­er. I left it in a hotel room in Port­land, Ore­gon – I think. I can’t remem­ber how far I had gone before I noticed it was miss­ing, but I was beyond going back. At the time, I care­ful­ly recon­struct­ed in my mind the moment of leav­ing the hotel room. I remem­bered the clos­et where the coat had been hang­ing and I pic­tured it emp­ty. And yet hadn’t the coat been hang­ing there until it was no longer with me? I could only have left it there. Still, I was nev­er sat­is­fied with my con­clu­sion. I will nev­er know. Maybe I called the hotel and they told me they had not found it. I was sad to lose the coat. I remem­ber think­ing it was fun­ny that I lost the coat in Port­land, because when I bought it in New York, they told me in the store that it was made in Port­land. Noth­ing else I own was made in Port­land. And I only went to Port­land on a few occa­sions to vis­it my daugh­ter who was study­ing there. The coat stayed. I like to think that some­one found the coat and kept it. They would be lucky to take over such a nice coat. And even luck­i­er to find the Egypt­ian scarab charm deep in the left pock­et. When I remem­bered the scarab, I was sor­ry to no longer have access to it; but since I nev­er con­sid­ered it a pos­ses­sion, unlike the coat, I accept­ed that its tra­jec­to­ry was not mine to con­trol. The scarab lived in the coat, so who­ev­er found the coat would inher­it the scarab. I was some­how con­soled by that thought. But not long after, back in New York, I found the scarab in a box. I have no rec­ol­lec­tion of ever remov­ing the scarab from my coat pock­et, and yet it had remained in New York when I trav­eled to Port­land. It must have known that the coat would even­tu­al­ly leave me, and it chose to stay.