Thursday, July 15, 2010

Karma

Doesn’t it sound just so cliché to say you believe in karma?

As if some hippy gods are out there are watching, waiting to reward you every time you pick up a piece of paper someone dropped.

Or help someone move into a third floor apartment.
Or sit with them in emergency care all day on Saturday after they twisted their ankle at the bar the night before.

Any one of those things could be why I’ve had pretty good luck in my lifetime. (Should I knock on wood when I say that? Haha)

The best karma luck I’ve ever had was when I was floating down a river in North Carolina.
(I love river floats; floating like a leaf down the watery trail, drinking beer and being able to pee whenever I want.)

On this particular floating trip, I had arrived at the start of the river wearing a bathing suit and shorts, which I had planned to leave in the car until I put a toe in the river and felt how positively freezing it was.

The shorts were staying on. (Perhaps I should have found a T-shirt, too, because I was floating with boys and I was wearing a thin bikini top and it was cold and….er, nevermind mom.)

In the midst of debating my attire in the cold mountain-fed river, and everyone already in the water, I decided to jump on the tube right then, shorts and all. I’ll paddle my arms really fast to get the blood moving, I thought.

After an hour or two, the four of us “pulled off” to the side of the river at high noon for lunch on the shore, a rejuvenating break in the sun.
Right as I was about to bite into my turkey sandwich, a Bachelorette party floated by (cute idea btw) and one girl called out to me, “Are you Genevieve?

I blinked. Yes, my name is Genevieve, but no one calls me that. Was this girl from my credit card company?

“Yes, I’m…Genevieve,” I said, as my floating companions stopped chewing to look at me.

“I found your debit card floating in the river and picked it up,” she said.

I looked down at my shorts, SHIT, and remembered that I had put my driver’s license and debit card in my pockets.
“Oh my God!” I said. “Yes!”
I verified my last name, and doggy-paddled over to the girls who were getting quite drunk on the float.

“THIS IS GREAT KARMA!” I told my rescuer. “ALL YOUR WILDEST DREAMS WILL COME TRUE TONIGHT!”
Everyone laughed.

I came back to shore and then divulged that my driver’s license was also gone, down the river.
“Well, at least you have your debit card,” someone said, trying to make me feel better. “I mean, you’d have to cancel your debit card, wait to get a new one and we don’t even have our cell phones out here. I’d rather lose my license than my debit card.”

He had a point, but still.
I had to drive back to South Carolina the next day and preferred to do so with a Driver’s License.
I was also planning on going out to a bar that night, and I certainly don’t look old enough to not get carded.
I was uninterested in my sandwich all of a sudden. I sat on the sand and frowned.

I was preoccupied for less than five minutes when an older lady came floating by the sandbank. She looked at me.
“Are you Genevieve?” she asked.
"YES!"
“I could tell by your picture.”

There, in her hand, was my driver’s license. I could see the red accents from where I was sitting.

I squealed with delight and swam over to her, as she told me she found it wedged between two rocks, water rushing over it. I thanked her profusely, also told her that her wildest dreams would come true that night, and got it safely back to shore.

I didn’t feel that worthy, to have both cards recovered in nearly impossible conditions. And both within five minutes of realizing they were even missing!

“Holy shit!” my fellow floaters said. “That’s some good karma. You must have helped an old lady cross the street or something.”
I considered that for a moment.
“Well thank God cards float,” I finally said.

********

When I was about 8 years old, the diamond in my mom’s engagement ring fell out of the ring and somewhere in our house.
We had very old wood floors — like many houses in New Orleans — and finding a diamond in every crevice, every knot, with the dog slobbering all over the place, seemed hopeless.

I can still see the image of my mom, canvassing the house looking down at every inch, visibly upset. I took this opportunity to go upstairs and sneak in a little TV, since we weren’t allowed to watch TV growing up.

Right as I flopped onto my parent’s bed with the remote, I felt something hard on the bottom of my bare foot. Not a splinter, but something I had certainly stepped on.
I looked under my foot and there was the diamond, wedged between my big toe and second toe.

“MOM I FOUND IT!” I yelled, holding it as I ran downstairs. “I STEPPED ON IT!”
“What in the world…?” she said, shuffling it around in her palm. “You’re very lucky,” she said.
I beamed, although then got really sad when I realized this meant I wasn’t going to be able to watch Full House after all.

Other good luck karma instances?
Well, I didn’t get a single drinking ticket from an undercover cop in college, while every single roommate of mine did.

Getting a drinking ticket was a HUGE pain in the ass. It was embarrassing, it cost a lot, you had to tell your parents and go to alcohol education classes.
If you were a minute late to the class, they locked the doors and you had to pay again to take another class.

And, my parents would NOT be OK with me getting an underage drinking ticket.
I also looked very young and was an easy target. (I’m sure I’d be questioned today if a “vice” saw me throwing back beers).
As such, I only went out drinking during the week, and suffered through class the next day.
This is what I learned in college: how to adapt.

A more recent instance that I like to think is karma, is when my horrible former editor, who hated how young and enthusiastic I was, recently split from her husband after he CHEATED ON HER with someone…young and enthusiastic. Wasn’t me. Swear. Shudder.

She would suck at my soul like a Dementor from Harry Potter every time I approached her with an idea for an article.
She told me I was a pain in her ass. She told me everyone hated me. She was an old, bitter bully, and now she’s an old bitter DIVORCEE. Coincidence? I hope not.

Once, I caught myself being too happy about her unfortunate circumstances and then said, no, Jenny, don’t be too happy because then one day it can come back and bite you. So, I didn’t buy that voodoo doll of her.

I think it’s reasonable to interchange karma, luck and timing when something miraculous happens or you find out you just avoided a bad situation.

Have I really been rewarded for all my good deeds, like when I carbon-copied my notes for that blind kid in elementary school?

Or signed my friend up for an online dating service, where she eventually found love?

Or fought to make sure a story about a girl collecting food for the homeless made it into the paper?

Maybe I’m being too philosophical.
Maybe debit cards just…float.

-Jenny

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