A Sunday Surreal

On December 17th, 2006, my plane from Kansas City left at 7:25am to Miami, Florida, from which I would continue to Bolivia, South America.

I was not on that plane.

Rewind.

Summarized To Do List:

– 3 finals
– 2 papers
– 4 trunks to ship to Bolivia
– 1 apartment to pack
– 3 cars to empty and clean
– 1 tea party to hold
– 2,730.3 loose ends to tie

12.3.2006
Grandmother is about to leave for KC. She needs a laptop, desperately, in order to communicate. Funds were tight, no sufficient sales. I decided to sell her my computer for $250. Bought a new notebook, an upgrade from my 2005 model, for $600. $350 investment, brand new computer. Had to move everything over.

12.5.2006

Grandmother leaves for Kenya.
12.7.2006
Two of the four trunks are packed and shipped ahead to Miami.

12.8.2006

The car dies.

12.9.2006

I rent a car.

12.10.2006
I enter the apartment (have been living in the house for convenience) to grab a bag to take to my Paper Writing Day at the library. Raining inside. Pipe had burst. Massive amounts of the next several days are used for cleanup, meeting/conversations with insurance, you name it…

12.11.2006
Inquisition final submitted.

12.12.2006
Finals for Public Administration and Research Analysis Methods are taken. Require a 95% on the Research Analysis final in order to maintain an A in the course.

12.14.2006
One paper is finished, at long last, and is quite lackluster comparative to my other work. I somehow don’t care. Meanwhile, I realize with a gasp that there’s not a snowball’s chance that I can successfully finish my Inquisition paper. Incomplete is requested – there’ll be time to write on the planes.

12.15.2006
I clean clean clean the house. Kristin and Katherine arrive. Gloriously casual tea party is held with Earl Grey, Cranberry Scones, Cucumber Sandwiches, Clotted Cream, Black Raspberry Jam, and Champagne. Christmas gifts are exchanged. Giggly videos are made. I am subjected to a seven minute recorded interrogation on the subject of whether I will find a Hot Bolivian Husband (Lorien: “NO. Marxists deserve to be stoned, not wed.”). Said video will never see the light of day. Kristin and Katherine secretly plot to steal said video.

12.16.2006
I awake at 6:15, two hours later than my alarm had been set. I pack one trunk. Kristin and Katherine wake up. We go to a bridal shop to inspect a dress Kristin had spotted through a window. Pleats are admired. Library books are returned, including one that was intended for a different library. Oops? Return home. I’m officially Stressed. More stressed than I have ever been in my life. Katherine and Kristin go about finding ways to help, and they’re marvelous – dishes from the tea party, unplugging appliances, packing the car, keeping me sane… nonetheless, I often find myself switching rooms and doing Lamaze breathing and 3 second bursts of tears. Stress intensifies when I realize just how many of my parents’ supplies I have to leave behind. I decide to NOT pack the apartment. Or clean the cars. Or. Or. Or. Car is packed. We leave town 2.5 hours later than intended. I’m a mess. We get to Kansas City and have dinner with Kristin’s fiancee Josh. Entirely exhausted, we all go to my motel by the airport. It’s dark and spooky, but it’s $64 for the 4 hours I intend to be there. Luggage and cat are placed inside, and the three of us tearfully pray and say goodbye.

12.17.2006
I awake at 4:30, one hour later than my alarm had been set, by my father calling. I rearrange the luggage so that one of my purses can be emptied and abandoned. I rearrange my wallet so that my daily wallet can be emptied and abandoned. Everything is set. I carry my luggage to the shuttle. I’m the only one. I’m driven to the airport. My hand is on my wallet throughout the shuttle ride. I even think “obsessive, much?”. Get out of the shuttle. Carry luggage 30-40 feet from shuttle to the check-in counter. It takes about a minute to a minute and a half for me to realize that in that time and space my wallet as disappeared.

My wallet contained:
– Passport
– Driver’s License
– International Driver’s License
– My bank and credit cards
– My father’s bank and credit cards
– My mother’s bank and credit cards
– $500 cash

Gone.

AirTran lets me check-in regardless. I have to rearrange part of the luggage in order to only have one bag overweight. I’m given a boarding pass so that if I find my wallet I can get on the plane quickly.

I go off to the side to look around and dig through my carryons. Can’t find it. This woman walks through the door and comes straight towards me, doesn’t even look around. Just looks at me and says, “Don’t cry, honey. It’ll be alright.” and walks on. I didn’t think to look to see where she went, but I didn’t see her again. I’m not positive she was human.

I spend the next several hours in a state of almost constantly brimming tears. They rarely spilled, but they were there.

I can’t fly.

6:00am: IM my mother – “URGENT. WALLET GONE. NEED DAD.” Discuss the matter with Dad.
6:30am: Receive text from Katherine – “I love you. Miss you already.”
7:00am: There’s no way I’m finding my wallet. The AirTran lady that was taking care of me told me to make a police statement.

The police come by.
Policeman #1: “You lost a wallet?”
Lorien: “Yes sir.”
P#1: “Why’d you call US?”
L: “The ticketing people told me to.”
P#1: {gets huffy and impatient. Still he’s apparently very bored. He sticks around.}
Policeman #2: {arrives}

They have me go through my carryons in case they see the wallet. They have me call the shuttle driver back so they can search the shuttle. P#1 is very eager to interrogate a shuttle driver who likely has a criminal record (because he’s a shuttle driver, they say), and is almost definitely illegal (ditto). No luck.

I text/call Katherine. She leaves church to come and get me.

We stick around the airport until 9:51, when the last possible flight that I could have taken left.

I recommend AirTran. I didn’t even ask, but they gave me a FULL credit for my plane ticket, the fee for my cat’s flight, refunded the extra baggage weight cost, AND waived the $50 cancellation fee. PJ at the K/MCI Airport’s AirTran booth is a dear and kind lady.

Katherine takes me to the motel to search the room, just in case. Nothing.

In the car, Katherine gasps: “!!! You can come to the CHRISTMAS PARTY and surprise Kristin! Don’t you dare tell Kristin!” A plan is formed.

Katherine takes me to her home. We have tea and cookies. Her family gets home. We have lunch. It’s very much like my own family, so everything is very easy and comfortable. Katherine’s parents are incredibly kind.

We go out to the World Market and Target for presents and wrapping. That evening is the Christmas Party for the learning center at which we all used to tutor and where we became friends in the first place back in our early years of college. We decide to craft the Ultimate Kristin Gift. Earl Grey tea, Cranberry scone mix, clotted cream, and lemon curd (sound familiar?). Katherine gets that, and I buy a box of Kung Fu Fido (“Someday you’ll find yourself barking up the RIGHT tree!”).

Back to Katherine’s house for tea and ironing.

Christmas party. Kristin was presenting Zee Boy and Zee Ring that evening, and we daren’t endanger that. We arrived a half hour late. Kristin was still not there. Katherine went inside, ready to text me when it was safe to come in. Fifteen minutes pass, and Kristin and Josh arrive. They drive up and their headlights are directly facing Katherine’s car where I’m hunkering down so as not to be seen. Ten minutes more. Katherine texts: “come”. I enter.

I can hear Katherine babbling nearby to distract from my entrance. Leta, our old boss, spots me. “It’s so good to SEE YOU!!!” Kristin hears and turns. It was brilliant. She physically staggered, bent sideways at the waist as if she wasn’t really seeing properly, gasped, pointed, made fish expressions, and came towards me.

In short: Katherine and I will a) never again achieve such an effect, and b) shortly be dead in a puddle of Kristin’s vengeance.

The gift exchange was a roaring success. Someone else opened the Tea in a Bag gift that Katherine had prepared, and Kristin’s face grew increasingly amazed as she watched its unwrapping. Katherine and I spent the next half hour stealing things from Kristin whenever we could manage it in order to ensure that she captured the Tea. Katherine wound up with a neat collection of gourmet cocoas (one of which she gave to me, because she’s spectacularly sweet) and I kept my Kung Fu Fido fortune cookies.

Another goodbye with Kristin, and we went back to Katherine’s house.

12.18.2006

I wake up at 5:45am. More sleep than I’ve had in weeks. Captain Pausert, my poor cat who had been with me throughout this dreadful adventure, had expressed his dismay and discontent and lack of a litterbox by peeing on my leg in Katherine’s guest room bed.

Thought #1: “EWUGH!!”
Thought #2: “Oh maaaaaaaaaan.”
Thought #3: “and her Mom has been so nice to me!”
Thought #4: “Oh. ack. I hope they believe me when I say it was the cat.” (By the way, I just looked. Apparently this is a Cat Thing. Ew.)

I showered. I locked myself OUT of the room. Katherine’s Dad took off the door. Katherine helped me set the sheets a-washing. We had breakfast. Katherine’s Mom hugged me even though Pausert made a mattress stinky. Katherine has a good mom. I managed to not bawl. I’d told Katherine that I knew I would, since I knew that any existence of maternal presence was going to make me weep. I didn’t manage to speak to my own mother until Tuesday, because I knew I’d be a mess the moment I did. By Tuesday I could handle it. Anyway.

We went to the Longview Lab so that Katherine could work and I could wait for my ride to Springfield. We hoped that a student or a math tutor would eat one of the dog cookies – no luck, too few students available. My ride arrived – a friend of my father’s very kindly drove me back to Springfield.

12.19.2006

I did nothing.

12.20.2006

I have written this. I am fixing the websites. I am in Springfield. I am going to be in Springfield for at least a few more weeks. Possibly a month and a half. I despise it. This is life. I am going to pack the apartment, empty the flooded garage, tie up all of the loose ends. I will write the Inquisition paper. I will finish my undergraduate thesis. If I decide to wait another three weeks, I will take the LSAT. Then I will go to Bolivia.

The loss/theft of a 8″x5″ leather bundle has changed the course of two months of my life.

Surreal.

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