I threw out my wallet yesterday. I wish I was kidding. I also wish this story had a better ending, like that my friend Jen’s generous search through the garbage can at work successfully returned my wallet to me. I wish I had a good story leading up to this current one, like something heroic or comical that resulted in my wallet landing in the garbage can, forgotten until it was too late. I wish I had my wallet and all of its contents safely in my purse.
I wish I had all of these things.
But I have none.
What I do have is the reluctant acknowledgement that I temporarily stepped away from my better judgment and tossed my wallet away like an empty bag of garbage, or rather, with an empty bag of garbage. I had gone with a friend and coworker to pick up food for lunch and on our way back I slipped my wallet into my bag of food. I remember in that moment thinking it wasn’t a good idea, but I proceeded anyways. We returned to the unit, ate our lunches, chatted for a minute with other coworkers, and then it was back to work. I slipped my empty food container into the bag and threw it all away. I continued on with my day, un-phased, distracted by the usual business of a day in the Pediatric ICU.
Hours later, after I had returned home and was switching purses to go see a friend I realized my wallet was missing. I assumed I had left it on the table where I ate, or maybe dropped it on the floor beside my purse in front of my patient’s room. A coworker’s search turned up empty. I started to consider the possibility that it had been stolen when a worse scenario clicked suddenly into my brain, like a flash back from a movie. A robbery would have allowed me the convenience of placing the blame elsewhere, the reality left me with no one to blame but myself.
I was walking by the time I realized what had happened. Racing from one thing to the next like I always do. I had rushed home, changed quickly, switched purses, and rushed out the door to my next activity.
I walk fast, I think fast, I plan fast.
“You need to slow down, Kate.”
I whispered in my head. Trying to hold back tears as the last few weeks of rushing around finally caught up with me.
Two weekends ago I plugged in, I charged up. It was wonderful, I had a day of Kateri time with no one else involved. I laid in bed until my butt went numb then I went for a run, something I hadn’t done in weeks. I bought groceries and I spent the evening watching a movie, alone in my apartment, with a glass of wine and take out.
I woke the next morning refreshed, recharged. And then I set off full force to drain all of the battery life I had regained. I packed up my apartment, signed a new lease, spent three days homeless, traveled upstate, moved furniture downstate, unpacked and settled in to my new apartment, working throughout. And now here I am, empty again.
I woke up this morning and glanced at my phone, 1% of battery life staring back at me. I laughed to myself as I plugged it in and took my spot in my favorite chair, computer on my lap, coffee at my side. Again I am slowing down, plugging in, or at least I am trying.
I called to cancel and replace my credit cards. When I explained to the wonderful man on the other end of the phone what had happened he told me he needed a minute, that in all of the years at his job he had never had someone need to replace their cards because they threw away their wallet, at least no one that admitted to it. I proceeded to impress him with my inability to reference the date, amount, or recipient of my last check written, check 1006 meant nothing to me this morning. I also failed with three attempts to identify the city in which my checking account was opened. I think I stated the correct street name, or maybe he had just given up by that point. “Oh never mind” he said in reply to my “Maybe Genesee St?”
I took the opportunity to impress him further when I told him a few days ago I reached into my purse for my phone charger and sunk my hand into a thick, creamy, greasy, and rather questionable substance. I was on a bus to Syracuse at the time, it was late and dark on the bus. I built up the courage to sniff my hand hoping but failing to identify what it was that covered my fingers and infiltrated itself under my nails. I used my remaining unaffected hand to enable the flashlight feature on my phone, I reluctantly and slowly swiped it across my bag, peering in to focus on a melted stick of butter.
I had thrown it in there at the last minute, moving out of my studio apartment and into nowhere. Clearly I proceeded to forget about it, until three days later.
“Is there anything further I can assist you with?” he asked, clearly assuming my response would finally be no.
“Why yes!” I chirped, “while I have you on the phone, I need to order a payout on my mortgage. My house is selling and will close on Monday.”
No wonder I threw out my wallet he told me, “you may need to slow down, you have a lot going on” he said, with a mix of sarcasm and pity.
I think he may be right.
So I am trying this again.
I am having a forced morning of stillness as I wait for my closing documents to arrive at my apartment. Maybe a morning of being confined to home followed by 10 days without credit cards or photo identification is exactly what I need.
Once the papers arrive I will take them to a notary and mail them back to the attorney, one step closer to a more simplified life. A life I plan to spend truly slowing down. Racing around can only last so long before you get pulled over, issued a ticket, forced to be aware of the consequences of speed.
This afternoon I will take my purse out of the freezer and scrape the remaining butter off of the bag, my stethoscope, my sunglasses case. I will throw some ingredients in a crock pot on the counter of my new kitchen and we will take our time together, cooking slowly through the day, savoring the time as it passes, rather than racing ahead.