|By: Paul S. Cilwa||Viewed: 12/6/2019
|Topics/Keywords: #McCarthy #Alaska #Anchorage #TSA #Travel #Spirituality #Metaphysics||Page Views: 3768|
|All about how I was almost trapped in Alaska without my wallet.|
It was now morning of our last day in Alaska. I awoke so stressed out over my missing wallet that I don't even remember breakfast, neither making it nor eating it. (I actually hard-boiled a dozen eggs.) Since the rafting company still hadn't called, I walked to the free phone at the footbridge and tried calling them again. They had not found the wallet, either on the river bar or in the deflated raft. The next trip out would be two days from now, and they would search the river bar thoroughly then. But of course that didn't help me now.
Adding to my stress level was the fact that Brad hadn't yet run the charge for Michael's and my share of the cabin on my card. I was sure I had gotten a confirmation before we left…didn't I? Well, maybe I did. Maybe not. I had no way of checking. The real point at the moment was that I still owed that amount, and had no wallet (and therefore no credit card) to enable me to make the payment.
Fortunately, Frank came through and offered to loan the amount. The total he had loaned me now exceeded $1000, including our share of the food we'd bought on the way out to McCarthy. I knew I could pay him back, but I hate owing money, especially to friends. Still, there wasn't really any alternative.
I didn't want to spoil what had been a terrific trip for Michael and Frank by openly freaking out, but I was freaking out, quietly, nevertheless. I had no wallet and therefore no identification and therefore would surely not be allowed through security at the airport and so wouldn't be able to go home at all. I might have to stay in Anchorage, but only as a homeless person as I wouldn't have the money for shelter and without an ID I wouldn't even be able to get a job.
We packed the car and headed back west toward Anchorage, retracing our 306 mile route from two days before. Since I'd already taken 200 photos of that route, and the weather hadn't changed much since we drove out, there wasn't much for me to do but worry and try to doze to make the trip go by faster. At one point, Frank suddenly jammed on the brakes crying, "Look! It's a bear!" And it was, a little black bear, sitting on the side of the road. I grabbed for my camera so violently that the strap was pulled out and the camera spun to the floor. By the time I had fished it back and pressed theon button, the bear, annoyed by our proximity and the billowing cloud of road dust our abrupt halt had stirred up, had gotten up and lumbered back into the forest.
We stopped in Chitina for gas. Frank had to pay for it as I had lost my wallet. He also bought some bread and ham for sandwiches, which Michael assembled as Frank drove. I enjoyed mine as much as I possibly could, knowing that this might be my last lunch ever, if I were trapped in Anchorage without my lost wallet.
Although Frank and I were supposed to leave that night, Michael's flight wouldn't depart until the next day; so I had prepaid a motel room for him. (I was certain it was really prepaid, because I had gotten it by bidding a low price from Priceline.com, and if the bid is accepted they instantly take the money from the specified credit card.) We therefore drove to the motel. I then called TSA (Transportation Security Agency) at the airport and explained my predicament. The person who answered said, "You'd be surprised how often that happens. Just come in early and we'll ask a few extra questions to establish your identity."
I couldn't imagine what the "extra questions" might be, but I figured it was a euphemism for a strip search. Well, I could always hope!
We went out to eat. Michael donated his last $20 to the cause and, again, Frank made up the difference.
I got to the airport a full two hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. My first hurdle was the Frontier ticket counter. Fortunately, my ticket was being used as a bookmark in the paperback I was reading, and hadn't been in my wallet. But they always want to see your license at the counter.
I explained my story, and the agent looked a bit puzzled, until she noticed my other bookmarks: The boarding passes from the first legs of my air journey. They had my name printed on them and she accepted that as proof I was entitled to return home on the same ticket. So I got my boarding pass (though not my seat assignment: I was flying standby, so even this effort might be for naught).
The next hurdle was the TSA gauntlet. I explained my situation to the woman behind the podium who was checking IDs. She asked me to wait a moment and called her supervisor. I explained the situation to him. He asked me to wait a moment, which turned out to be about five minutes, as he called his supervisor and established a connection to someone—I don't know who; it might have been the head of Homeland Security or even Barack Obama, himself, for all I knew.
He had me fill out a form that looked almost like a credit application, then read the fields I'd filled out over the phone. He paused, and then passed on a questions the mysterious phone person posed: What kind of dwelling was it? Did I live alone, or did anyone live with me, and, if so, who? Where did I work? …And so on.
Finally, the unseen phone person must have been satisfied, because the local guy signed his name on the bottom of the form and told the woman at the podium that it was okay, she could let me through. And that was it. Surprisingly, there was no strip search or even an extra-thorough search of my carry-on.
Since I wouldn't be able to buy food for the trip, because I had lost my wallet, I was already hungry even though I'd had an enormous dinner. So I ate one of the hard-boiled eggs, left over from breakfast, that I'd brought.
The jet I hoped to take arrived and disgorged its passengers. The fifteen minutes required to clean it seemed to take forever. Then they began boarding, first warning us that this was a "very full flight" and so they would need to gate-check large carry-ons, store smaller ones under their seats, and so on.
My heart sank at the prospect of a very full flight. That had been the original source of problems on my way to Alaska. I approached the desk agent and asked, "How full is 'very full'? I'm on standby. Should I just go ahead and slash my wrists now?"
Luckily, the agent was a gay guy and recognized the difference between sarcasm and a death threat. He grinned at me and said, "It's not really very full. We just always say it is so people will stow their carry-ons quickly. We've got some twenty seats open, so you'll be okay."
My knees came entirely too close to giving way on the spot.
So, I got a seat assignment and boarded the red-eye to Denver, sleeping essentially the entire trip. Of course, I was on standby in Denver, too; and in fact my 8:30 am flight was full. But the gate agent saw that and put me on the wide-open 7:00 am flight instead.
And so I got home, where my ex-wife dear friend Mary picked me up in my car. I dropped her off at her apartment and drove home, very carefully because, you know, if I were to be stopped by a police officer, well, I didn't have my wallet.
But no one stopped me.
At home, waiting for the time I had to leave to meet Michael at the conclusion of his flight, I pulled out my gym membership, which happens to have a Xerox copy of my driver's license in it. Then, to pass the time, I did a little surfing on the web, including a visit to the web site of Blossom Goodchild, an Australian psychic who posts channeled messages. I was startled to find the following on her Federation of Light channeling of May 30, the day after which my trip started (emphasis is mine):
Many of you expressed feelings of the chakras activated to their maximum. If you like, we would put it that they were your anchorage whilst technicalities within your physical self were being adjusted…Now that one is ready, and has prepared the self for the next phase, it is also profitable for one to realize that there is a 'leap of faith' to be taken. As if in a sense one should leap off a cliff and TRUST that they shall fly.
I wrote recently about the challenging energies of these days prior to 2012. Why didn't it occur to me that I, also, would experience these challenges? Looking back, it was obvious that my stress over the lost wallet was out of proportion to what is normal for me. I'm the one who is always saying to "let the Universe take control" and "go with the flow." And yet, I'd not been my usual Zen self during this crisis-that-needn't-have-been-a-crisis. After all, Frank didn't seem to mind loaning the money for the non-prepaid payments and ticket and meals; I would be able to pay him back; I did get through TSA without a license and I did get to and from Alaska, having wonderful experiences and taking a ton of very cool photos.
In short, I had worried about nothing.
And, with that realization, my phone rang. It was the rafting company. They had found my wallet…on the flightseeing plane. Michael kept saying he "should have" checked it for me, but he didn't. Frank said the same thing. I had checked it, without success.
But, as Glinda the Good once pointed out, "You had to learn it for yourself." Not that there's "no place like home," but that there's no place that isn't home. We are not really orphans in a storm, though it can seem that way when we forget. We just have to remember, all the time but especially when the going gets tough, that the key to getting through is trusting that everything's going to be all right.
Sure, that sounds simplistic as long as one clings to exceptions. "As long as I don't die…as long as I don't lose my job…as long as I'm not homeless…as long as I don't lose my wallet…" What you have to do is let go of those exceptions. We don't really need a wallet, or a home, or a job, or even physical life because we have Eternity. We are all One, everything; and any time we start moaning "Oh, God, why have you forsaken me?" it's because we've forgotten the simple fact that we arepart of God, within, and cannot be forsaken any more than our physical selves can forsake our kidneys or livers or hearts.
And yet, any of us can forget. I did. And that was my lesson for the trip: How easy it is to forget to trust in the process, in the face of even minor adversity.
And how great it feels later, when one finally remembers that, as expressions of God Within, every one of us has a license to fly.