In my focus on the missing shirts, I have drawn too narrow a focus. The mystery runs deeper.
For example, I never mentioned the red stuff sack that I kept in my soccer bag. I used to put my jerseys in it so that I wouldn't have to root around in my bag to find them. I know I had that stuff sack back at the end of the spring season. When the fall season rolled around, I couldn't find it.
I also had a pair-of-shoe-sized vinyl carrying bag that came with a pair of cleats I bought a few years back. I used to put my shin guards and sleeves and socks in it. It, too, disappeared between the spring and fall seasons.
As with the shirts, the obvious, materialist answer is that I simply lost these items--I left them on the field or something. And I would accede to that possibility, were I not so completely OCD about never leaving anything behind. I always check again and again and again before I walk away.
At a certain point, the question becomes not just, "What forces are acting so sneakily to steal my things?" but also, "What are they hoping to accomplish?" Could it be that occult forces are trying to disconnect me from my very sense of the solidity of reality?
Consider: a couple of nights ago, Debby went into the downstairs bathroom to get a little lotion from the huge bottle she keeps in there. She was in there for a long time, then came out, lotionless and puzzled.
"I couldn't find it," she said.
There are no hidden places in that bathroom. If you can't find something, it's not there.
"You see?" I said. "And you thought those pieces about house spirits and trickster gods was just me messing around."