I decided to move to California. Quit my yoga teaching jobs, gave away half my stuff and my rental apartment, shipped the other half of the stuff and then prepared to cram what was left in the back seat of the little Honda I would be driving across country. The day before my scheduled departure (and the new tenant was very, very anxious to move into the apartment) I took the Honda in for a pre-drive oil change and the kind service agent told me some sorry news. All the engine struts in the car were broken. I had $2000 cash for my transition and now that was gone. I had a six month old kitten, Lakshmi, traveling with me, so camping and days driving more than 8 hours or was not an option. I debated staying (too late) . I debated not going so far (too late). Finally I just thought, “Well I’ll have to tighten my belt and put the journey on my credit card,” and proceeded as planned.
The first night I was in Virginia heading towards Route 40 cross country, and I stopped for the night. The hotel room was reasonable, and I offered up my credit card. The clerk processed all the paperwork, only to note after I signed the room agreement that kittens were not allowed. I hadn’t even thought of that. She was, after all, less than 5 lbs. I insisted the charges on my credit be reversed and when the desk attendant handed me the paperwork that my stay had been cancelled. I observed, to my dismay, a hefty charge against my card. Hefty, very, very hefty. It had been reversed but the refund would take 7 – 10 business days. A major bite was taken out of my credit line. I’m not going to say I didn’t throw a temper tantrum. I did. Now I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, late at night trying to figure out how to get across the country. Lakshmi, who refused to give in to “Calming Kitty” herbal relaxation tonic, was meowing loudly to be released from her, all-too-small-carrier. I used the small amount of cash on hand to stay at a different hotel for the night, figuring I would figure it out in the morning.
The yoga students who took my class in New Jersey had packed a gift for me before I left. I planned to open it when I got to California, but I was feeling alone and helpless and in need of cheering up so I decided to open it early. The box was shaped like a book and decorated in a delicate pink paisley. I opened the lid to find scrolls, tied with beautiful ribbons. What? I thought. I opened one, and there inside the scroll was a beautiful thank you note. Wow. I paused, not wanting to consume the entirety of this delicious experience all at once, but something inside me urged me to go on…open another. In the next one another beautiful note and …a twenty-dollar bill. I continued to open them one at a time, some had slipped in gifts of cash, some had not, and there was no correlation…sometimes I didn’t recognize the name on the note at all, but there would be cash with the note. Sometimes it was someone close…and no cash inside. There was some $500 in cash in that box. Just enough to get to California if I scrimped. It was the first of many miracles on that trip as Lakshmi (the kitten) and I were treated to discount hotel rooms by kitten loving hotel managers and delightful free ashram meals. Miraculously, 7 days later or so as I found myself cruising across the Richmond Bridge to our destination, Marin County, I still had $50 left in my pocket. While I wrote a general thank you note to the community in New Jersey, sharing the story of our adventure…not a single person ever stepped up and claimed they had tucked a little cash in that box.