Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Have you seen a green purse?

I mugged Lisa on the bus yesterday. In fact, I held up the entire bus. I escaped with surprising speed, wresting two tens from her wallet with one hand while the other 180'ed the stroller down the rubbery, grooved aisle to the sighing doors.

Seconds before, the driver had waved us on as I requested a moment to dig out my fare card. Which was odd--my wallet is always in hand when the bus comes, because I fear that my clumsiness with boarding Miguel and his accouterments will cause a delay and contribute to dreaded bus bunchings down the line.

My wallet?? Where was my wallet? It should have been in my purse which was????

Somewhere on North Avenue beach, where we had spent the afternoon with our babies. My panicked eyes grabbed Lisa's. I needed to get off, retrace our steps, and I needed some cash for a phone call, for a cab ride, for food--as though I imagined that, purseless, Miguel and I would become hungry, urban wanderers, circling around, never quite able to make it home.

"Stop the bus!" I yelped. Passengers rolled their eyes as Miguel and I made our exit. Storm clouds crept from the west, the direction of home, which at this point felt very far away.

We retraced our steps. First, we swung by the restrooms--had I left my purse swinging on a stall hook? I stalked the stalls, waiting for people to leave each one. No luck. I rolled the stroller down the plastic boardwalk to our patch of sand. Barren. We slumped to the concession area where I had bought a berry smoothy. The young crew looked heartbroken for me. On to the life guard station. Same story.

The inky clouds inched closer, kicking up the wind. I desperately repeated the circuit, giving good Samaritans some time to turn my purse in to the life guards. We hit the beach again, my eyes straining for a lonesome green lump.

I wondered if Miguel knew I was freaking out. Stress sends me into silent frenzy. Did the halt to my normal chatter and the briskness of our movements alert him to the shift in mood? How old will he be when he can read me, just as I was reading the sky? Can he already? Is he learning how to react to situations by my example?? Was I setting a good example????

I crouched down and kissed him. "Mommy's having a rough afternoon. Thanks for being so calm. It really helps!"

After another kiss and a tickle, we were off again, back to the concession area. I bought a lemonade to break the 10 for bus fare. One of the smoothy vendors offered the use of his cell phone. I called Michael, embarrassed.

"I, uh, lost, er, my purse is missing, I don't know if I left it somewhere or someone took it, or both. It's just gone." I was nearly in tears. How could I be such an idiot? Who brings the unabridged version of their purse to the beach? In addition to the basics, I was carrying too much cash, my debit and credit cards, my teacher ID, the lime green iPod nano Michael had given me for Christmas in support of my jogging efforts and the good luck crystal we had found on last year's trip to Colorado.

It was just starting to rain as Miguel and I again boarded the North Avenue bus. I couldn't believe I was paying in cash. "I need to remember to call CTA to block access to my Chicago Card account," I sighed to myself, starting the epic to do list.

The rain started just as the bus pulled away from the beach. For the final 5 block walk home, I draped a blanket over the stroller. Miguel conked out quickly. We got home before Michael did, so I crouched in front of our door, letting the warm rain collect in the brim of my sunhat.

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