I remembered to ask my parents whether they’d seen it while we were on skype the other day.
“Have you seen my credit card lying around?” I asked, oh so casually, in the middle of our conversation.
My father, as I’d guessed he would, sighed.
“Lisa,” he said, and then paused. “Does your husband know about this?”
“Not exactly,” I said, grinning just a little. “I’m a firm subscriber to the theory that one of the best ways to keep your marriage healthy is not to let every single thought that goes through your head come out your mouth.”
There was silence while my parents, I’m sure, tried to figure out what this had to do with my credit card.
“Almost every day I think that maybe I should really try to find it,” I added helpfully.
Dad sighed again.
“We’ll keep an eye out,” he said.
So “find my credit card” has been on my to list for weeks now, and since today is a day full of life admin – filing, sorting books, and trying to catch up on email – I gritted my teeth five minutes ago and went in the bedroom determined to do a thorough search. I’d already looked in my wallet twice but started by flicking through it again just to make sure… and there is was. Nestled somewhere I still can’t understand why I would have put it. Halleluiah. I found it and I got to tick something off the to-do list and I do not have to go through the hassle of trying to get it replaced over here in Laos, not to mention having to confess the whole debacle to Mike. Happy days.
The whole thing has made me think of one of the first essays I wrote after I started emailing Mike. Called, “Inner Child” I thought it was merely an “all’s well that ends well” tale that kept me amused writing it up on an overnight flight to London. I found out later that Mike found it less amusing than terrifying. So, today, here’s a walk down memory lane and a look at an essay I sent out just over three years now. (PS, Despite this post’s evidence to the contrary let me assure you that I’m heaps more responsible and organized now. Heaps.)
Inner Child (October 2007)
What does my inner child look like, I wondered, rifling through the pockets of all the jackets hanging in my closet, and where on earth was my bankcard?
Both were pressing questions. Ed was picking me up for the inner child party in two hours, and I was getting on a plane to head to Kenya in less than 24. I had six dollars in my wallet, and it was Saturday at 3:30pm. The banks were closed (which I had discovered when I rocked up at my local branch at 3pm with passport in hand all set to make a withdrawal sans bankcard). They were going to stay closed until Monday morning by which time, all going well, I would be in London. This was somewhat of a problem. Plus, I still didn’t have a costume for the party. The afternoon was not going as planned.
Faced with a whole row of stubbornly empty pockets I stood back, took a deep breath, and tried to think.
When confronted with multiple crises it’s always wise to take a moment to evaluate which is the most pressing. Clearly that was what I was going to wear to the party. Perhaps if I figured that out, the secondary issue of how I was going to manage to spend two weeks in Africa on six dollars would seem more manageable.
Robin said we were supposed to come dressed as something that reflects our inner child, and this had me stumped. Did she want us to come dressed as the inner child that actually was a child? Because then all I’d have to do is straighten my hair, put on some appallingly thick glasses, and braces, and then go and sit in a playground and read a book – because that child didn’t actually have many friends and hence, didn’t go to parties often.
Or did she mean the inner child we have now – the un-self-conscious, comfortable-in-our-own-skin inner child that tempts us towards silliness and fun and levity? Come to think of it though, I’m not sure why those qualities get associated with inner children. I got better at embracing them as I got older. Most of my childhood I spent feeling like an adult trapped in a little body.
Perhaps she meant the inner child we always wanted to be when we were children? If that was the case I could go for the entirely unremarkable outfit of jeans and a tee shirt on the grounds that I spent a significant portion of my childhood wanting to just be more normal. Or perhaps I should wear a sari because when I wasn’t thinking it would be nice to be normal, I was thinking it would be nice to be Indian. Or maybe a formal dress and a tiara? I can’t actually remember fantasizing about being a princess (except being a sari-clad Indian princess) but I’m sure I did. Doesn’t every little girl want to be a princess?
I sighed and looked longingly at my bed, which was covered with clothes, work documents, and an open suitcase.
What I really wanted more than anything else in that instant was to climb back into that bed, read a good book, and forget about Africa and parties. And I’d give my kingdom to have someone bring me some ice cream. And a nice glass of wine. Or two.
That was it! My inner child just wanted to be in bed. I would go in pajamas.
“Good idea!” Robin said, when she heard what I was planning. “I will too, and Sharla, probably. Then we can have a slumber party!”
Awesome. Not only had I come up with a decent idea, this inner child went to slumber parties. This inner child had some friends. Things had definitely improved in the last two decades.
Now, the bankcard.
I’d been convinced it was in the car.
This was not an entirely stupid assumption. I’m a relatively neat and ordered person. My office, my bedroom, the house… all fairly neat – if not germ-free clean. Captain Waldo, my car, is a totally different story. My theory is that he is actually a different planet, with his own field of gravity, which has an almost irresistible affinity for things like receipts, empty coffee cups, cans of diet coke, Tupperware containers, CD’s, and books. On Saturday morning he looked like a mobile library. There were at least forty books scattered on the back seat. It seemed likely that my bankcard was buried in there somewhere. It’s been known to happen before.
It was a great theory. The only problem being that during the half an hour it took me to dig through all the detritus it became clear that the bank card was not buried in there somewhere.
I tackled the problem logically. I marveled at the cleanness of the car for a minute or two, then I went back inside and decided it still wasn’t time to panic. It was likely somewhere in the house, I reasoned, but just in case it wasn’t, I’d better go to the bank before it closed and make a withdrawal using my passport as ID.
So off I toddled to the bank.
Which is when I learned that the bank shuts at 2pm on Saturday.
So now my costume was all sorted and another half hour of searching in the house hadn’t yielded any bank-card-joy there was no avoiding the fact that I was going to have to figure out a plan B or embrace solidarity with the poor.
Plan B would normally be Bank-O-Dad. But, unfortunately, Bank-O-Dad only has one branch, which is in Australia rather than Los Angeles. But, I suddenly realized, I had friends. Friends who would be coming to a slumber party with me that night. Friends who would surely empty their checking accounts for me. After all, what are friends for?
So I rang Robin back.
When she didn’t answer I left a message telling her I had an “unusual request.” I tried for an upbeat, “I have a really neat plan for a big adventure” tone, but had a nasty suspicion as I hung up that I had sounded more guilty than cheerful.
This was confirmed when she rang back and the first words out of her mouth were a wary, “what do you want?”
“A thousand dollars,” I said in a small voice.
“Lisa!” Robin said in a tone I’ve heard more than once in the last four years of our friendship.
“Where did you have it last?” She asked after I explained the problem.
“Chicago,” I said, even more softly.
“Lisa! You went to Chicago a month ago! I heard you say your bankcard was missing weeks ago. You didn’t find it in between? When did you really start looking for it?”
“This morning,” I whispered.
“Lisa! Wow!” Robin said. There was a long silence that gave us both ample time to reflect on my idiocy. “Well I can’t get out a thousand dollars at the ATM. I can only get four or five hundred.”
“That’s okay,” I said, relieved. “I can write you a check right now for that, and I’ll ask some of the others too.”
In the end my Bible Study group came through with the goods, and Robin, Paul, Sarah, Sharla, and Joe, all contributed to my financial solvency for this trip.
“Don’t lose it,” Robin warned me as she handed me an envelope full of cash. “And don’t tell Jenn about this. She’ll be mad.”
Yeah. Our mutual friend Jenn, and my parents, and everyone else who manages not to do things like this on a regular basis. But the way I see it I’m home free now. I only make one or two big and potentially serious mistakes per international trip. And this was my second, because this year I completely forgot that I needed visas to go to Kenya and Ghana until three weeks and two days before I was scheduled to leave and anyone who knows anything about the pace at which African embassies generally operate know that’s not exactly a safe margin. So given that I’ve already had a potential visa-debacle and weathered a missing bankcard… it should be a great trip from here on out.
Thank the Lord for growing out of lonely childhoods, for grown-up pajama parties, and for good friends is all I can say.
And, for those good friends who live in Chicago – if you happen to see my bankcard, can you mail it to LA?