Have you ever experienced something that seems mundane, yet simultaneously very mysterious, and has no logical explanation you can think of?
In the 1990s I was living in a relatively high-end neighborhood of Minneapolis. We’re not talking Beverly Hills 90210 – my immediate neighbors were solidly middle class – but I was within two blocks of both Bobby McFerrin and Walter Mondale.
My house had a driveway leading from the street to a two-car garage at the back of the lot. Behind the garage was an alley. It was an old garage, with bi-fold doors that opened to the side. High on the back wall there were two windows, each maybe 20 inches square, that overlooked the alley.
One day when I was in the alley putting out the trash, I noticed that one of those windows had gone missing.
Each of these windows had an inner pane and an outer pane. It was the outer pane that had disappeared. This was odd. Who would steal a crummy old wood-framed window from a garage? Besides, it couldn’t have been taken on a whim by somebody meandering down the alley. These windows were mounted high on the inside back wall of the garage. In addition, there was a 3-foot drop from the floor level of the garage down to the level of the alley. So even if you were as tall as a pro basketball player, you would still need a ladder to reach that window from the alley. It wouldn’t have been any easier to take it from inside the garage, because there was shelving in the way, and you would have had to remove the inner pane to get at the outer pane. There was no sign that the inner pane had been disturbed.
It was annoying to lose a window – if I decided to replace it, it would have to be custom made. But it was just a garage window, after all, and the inner pane was still intact, so replacing it didn’t seem particularly urgent. I thought briefly of calling the police, but what could they have done? It was a mystery, but I just let it go.
Some months went by.
And then one day as I arrived home, there it was. The missing window had been returned, but not to where it belonged. It was on the pavement, leaning against the garage door.
There was no note from an apologetic neighbor. No clue about where it had been. It was just there.
My first thought was that maybe someone had broken the window accidentally, taken it down to fix it, and returned it. But no. The same old dirty glass was in the window frame, held in by the same ancient and cracked painted glazing.
So I got on a ladder and hung it back in its rightful place. To this day, I can’t think of any logical reason why someone would have gone to the considerable trouble of taking that window, keeping it for a few months, and then returning it to a place where I would be sure to see it.
Very strange. Very mysterious. Ultimately of no consequence at all, and yet here I am 15 years later, still wondering. So if you have any clues, or even semi-plausible theories, I’d be happy to hear them.