The Wallet

I left my wallet in the grocery cart the other day.

As I drove home, top down, iPod playing my driving playlist through twelve vibrating speakers bass turned down so my ears don’t become unglued, but Bruce turned up. The day was blue and crisp and fluffy white. I mentally inventoried my grocery gabs in the trunk and once again applauded the nondairy cashew milk frozen sandwiches on sale plus a coupon. Life was looking pretty good. I glanced over to the passenger seat where I threw my wallet on Bella’s small paw prints still indented silently on the black cushion. Except there was no wallet.

I must have put it in one of my bags. I must have. I do that a lot. So, Bruce faded into Blondie and I sang Call me off key as loudly as I could without annoying fellow voyagers on the road to sanctuary.

Waiving to a neighbor as I turned the corner onto my street, I felt an uneasy falling underneath my ribs. I stopped, popped the trump, and a cursory glance revealed no brown flowered rectangle on top of those fantastic nondairy frozen novelty sandwiches.

My stomach joined the elevator plunge as I combed through groceries, sale and full price. There was no wallet in the bags. No brown treasure hidden under Bella’s small red travel bed. No displaced rectangle thrown about the trunk as I had turned the corner, one hand on the wheel, one hand thrown in the air.

I would have called Kroger but my phone was in my wallet.

Frozen detectibles be damned, I threw myself into the driver’s seat and ignored speed limits as much as I could realistically attempt. I retraced my happy voyage in a decidedly unhappy mood.

I scoured the metal corrals but was rewarded only with weekly sales flyers and half folded pleated white circles.

I haven’t run in this decade, but I walked very quickly to customer service and was rewarded with a surly blue aproned semi adult who informed me that nothing had been turned in and didn’t I say my phone was in my wallet so how could they call me anyway.

I mentally counted my cash, about $150 in anticipation of the weekend Farmers Market and the week ahead. I fool myself into thinking I’m keeping off the grid. I’m not. Cards, mostly Bank of America, so that could be taken care of easily. At one fell swoop. On my laptop. My ultra-secret bank password that would be hard to explain. So, I felt ok. But now would I have to pay to $80 fee to replace my senior citizen lifetime national park pass? I had scored this sweetie before the deadline or the new administration.

Deep breaths assured me that this was fixable, but my phone. All of my passwords, All of my codes. When was the last upload? Had I set the auto backup? How much of my data was in the cloud and recoverable? Why wasn’t I sure? My paid for phone. In the case Finn had customized for me with the Mimi sticker. Resigned now to a new quest for the best deal on a new phone and carrier, I mentally thumbed through ads and flyers with each dismal solitary step back to my car. Tallying up the costs ahead of me was too daunting at this time. I gave the silver stalls one more excavation in the vain attempt to will the outcome this time.

And there it was, pushed to the center and tucked away in the midst of carelessly shoved carts. The brown flowered wallet. With the cash all there. With the golden Mimi phone. 

Relief washed over me like my rain shower head on a chilly day.

How could I have left it? My old buddies, doubt and recrimination, so absent from my present tranquil life, came to party. They leapt into action with practiced precision. How could I be so careless? I can’t do anything right. I must be starting to show my age. 

Don’t get me wrong. I really like being old. I can walk down the street without endless “Hey baby, give me a smile. What’s the matter stuck up bitch.” I can just walk. In peace. People have few expectations of you past a certain age. There is no should have, could have. There is just what is. 

I often say I’m in the sweet spot of aging. Old enough to have a past and young enough to remember it. Of course, I do have to smack some of my old habits and insecurities around from time to time. But they have slowly become accustomed to who is the boss around here. Days are sweet when you really can do whatever you please. I know I am lucky and comfortable and safe.

Sure, my back is a mess, I’m losing my hearing daily, I get dizzy if I turn my head the wrong way, and my knee is hit or miss. But going to physical therapy, I see so many people with walkers, and various cane contraptions, and I feel lucky and thankful. Going over the patterns of my back, my physical therapist reflects that I must have a very high pain threshold. I laugh and say I’ve had to. Deadly car crashes, deadly diseases, deadly marriage. I’ve had to. Walk in on your husband in bed with your best friend and her husband and walk away without a high pain threshold.

I like being old. It works for me and makes me happy. I sometimes forget names and words and where that blasted fit bit is because I’m proud of my steps. I stroll through my neighborhood, talking to neighbors, waving to passing traffic, admiring the kids helmet-less on bikes and skateboards, millennials and gen-exers with beards and big dogs. Letting all comers adore Bella, the Diva Dog. I try to shift my upper body to the left to help realign my spine, all the while trying to suck in my navel, and looking left to right reading signage and other visual acuity exercises. I enjoy each step, crunching grass or gravel under my feet, even though I have passed those corners hundreds of times.

But I left my wallet in the grocery cart at Kroger.

A blood clot squeezed the life out of my father the year he decided to retire. My mother was more fortunate, spending two more decades bragging about her grandchildren before the stroke turned off her brain.

How many good years do I really have left? I’m not counting, but I’m not ignoring either. I’m just living in the sweet spot.


Henrico, VA

Enjoying being old. Trying to record our family stories before too many fade to dust.

Judi LundbergComment