Every other month, Valerie and I fly to Laurel, Maryland via Reagan National Airport, where Valerie is pursuing her Master's degree in Yoga Therapy. On the months we don't fly there, her classes are virtual. I come along for the down time, spending most of my time there in the hotel, reading, writing, working on the podcast. This time, however, it didn't work out how I had planned.
We flew in Wednesday night and retrieved our checked bags. I had a carry-on, a travel backpack. We walked out to catch the shuttle to the rental car area. I put my carry-on on the bench and we waited. Then, I'm not sure what happened. We boarded the shuttle and half way to the car rental, I realized I had just left my bag on the bench. By the time we came back around, it was long gone. Stolen.
I felt that I had experienced what could be described as a "cognitive lapse." It was less that I had just forgotten my bag, and more that I had forgotten that I even had a bag. I didn't occur to me until we were well on our way to pick up our rental car that I did have a bag, but it wasn't with me. Suddenly, my mind was full of a mix of panic and a sense of "what the hell is wrong with me?"
After making certain that the bag was indeed missing, there was nothing to do at the time except to drive to Laurel and call airport security. I was, to say the least, devastated. Not just because of the loss of possessions, but the thought that there were signs of cognitive lapse. Valerie tried to reassure and comfort me as well as she could. "At least we are safe and most of what was in the bag is replaceable."
The nest day, I called airport security and they assured me that no bag fitting the description I gave had been turned in. The advised that if any of the airport staff had seen the abandoned bag, the DC police would have been contacted and they would have swept it for explosive devices and/or drugs.
What was in the bag, you ask? All the elements of my weekend that were to keep me occupied. My Kindle Scribe, my fountain pens, a book I was reading and planned to finish over the weekend, a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and a Lochby Field Journal (kind of a binder that holds 3 cahier notebooks with pen slots. There was also a travel espresso maker, the keys to both my car and our apartment, and my medications. All of these things are replaceable. I had to go two days without my medications, but those were eventually replaced.
The one thing that is not replaceable is my journal. It was a 6 x 9 hardcover notebook and I had almost filled it. Reading notes, quotations, writing and podcast ideas, all gone. I did have my contact information written in the inside of the front cover. I, however, hold no faith that anyone would bother to put it in bubble mailer and ship it to me.
But as Valerie reminded me, I came out of the whole thing a little worse for emotional wear, but was safe, relatively healthy, and alive.
I spent the next day, while Valerie was in class, meditating and pondering about letting go. It was all just "stuff" I said, stuff that would eventually be replaced. I spent the Friday following looking for a new notebook, a cheap set of headphones (from Five Below, no less) and then I found a thrift store with a decent selection of books. With that I managed to get through the weekend relatively unscathed.
We are back home now. I received my new Kindle Scribe and a new Lamy fountain pen. I found a decent shoulder bag and a couple hardcover journals. And we are home, safe and alive. The sting of loss will fade eventually. There will be new ideas, new opportunity to create. And lessons of mindfulness and of letting go.
As far as the cognitive stuff goes, we will just have to keep an eye on it. It could be nothing, It may have been that I was just over-tired from the trip. I always tell my doctors, jokingly, that having open heart surgery about sixteen years ago made me a bit of a hypochondriac. Let's hope that is all this is.