April 8th, 2010

The Dollar That Didn't Like Hawaii

luckydollar.jpgLife is full of little weirdnesses, and here's yet another: Shortly before we left for Hawaii last month, my lucky dollar turned up missing. That's the very one at left, though it's shinier and more worn now than it was when I first mentioned it (and took the photo) in 2006. I've had the dollar in my pocket pretty much continuously since Aunt Kathleen died in mid-1999. She received it from my Uncle Louie at some point, and it came to me upon her death. Keeping the dollar in my pocket isn't about luck, but about remembering both my godmother and a peculiar man who faithfully looked after his baby sister (my mother) after my dad died, and who believed in me when almost no one else did.

It's hard to misplace something that big, but one day I just reached into my pocket for some small change and noticed that it wasn't there. I then did a furious ten-minute tour of all the most likely spots: The sofa, the sectional, my reading chair, the 4Runner, behind the pants press. Nothing. Two days later we boarded the plane, and by then I pretty much assumed it had fallen out while I was sitting in a chair at Carol's doctor's office or somewhere else irretrievable, and was gone forever. I was bummed. (Hawaii helped ease the pain.)

Back at the end of March, only a few days after we got home from Hawaii, Carol and I had the carpet cleaners in for the first time since 2007. We spent an hour putting scooter disks under the legs of the smaller furniture pieces to get them out of the carpeted areas. Something caught my eye as I shoved Carol's nightstand toward the bedroom door. There on the carpet, pretty much dead-centered in the space where the nightstand had been, was the dollar.

WTF? I tried to imagine a scenario in which the dollar would pass from my pants pocket to underneath Carol's nightstand, without convincing success. Ever so rarely often I dump my pockets on the bed while I change pants, and somehow, the dollar must have migrated from the bed to the floor when I wasn't looking, and rolled unerringly into shadow. You'd think I would notice. But I didn't.

I put it back in my pocket. Carol and I both laughed, because we knew the rest of the story: Aunt Kathleen was not an adventurous person, not the least little bit. She'd had exactly three street addresses in her whole 78-year life, all within a few blocks of Chicago's Devon Avenue. She'd been to California with her family when she was a 13-year-old girl. (Boris Karloff is signing her autograph book in this photo.) She took another trip with her parents in 1953, when she was 33, this time to...Hawaii. The trip must have been difficult, or for some other reason freaked her out, because as best we know, she never left the greater Chicago area again, ever.

As she said many times, she just didn't like traveling. Or maybe Hawaii had made a bad impression. Hard to tell. But for all the talk you hear about the velocity of money, Aunt Kathleen's dollar preferred to sit out our Hawaii trip and went to great lengths to do so. And once Hawaii was no longer a threat, it showed up again, promptly.

Crazy world, ain't it?