Here’s what happened:
After finishing dinner at Tanakasan, I walked home with my shopping bag full of hiking gear and, upon arriving at my building, discovered that my keys — building fob, house key, car key, mailbox key, storage unit key, bike rack key, office key, grocery store rewards card — were nowhere to be found. Not in my bag (where they were supposed to be); not in my hands (where I wished they were); not in my pockets (where I knew they would never be, because pocket bulges are so vexing).
I mentally traced my steps back through the evening to think of where the keys might have gotten lost, and I realized, with a sense of growing horror, that they must be lying somewhere on the floor at REI. Maybe among the hiking boots; more likely beneath the racks of puffy down vests and colorful Gore-Tex jackets. That’s where I had gotten so distracted by fabric and fit (gosh, I love high-end sportswear!) that I’d basically flung my tote bag down and started trying things on. How easy it would have been for the keys to slip out unnoticed! I figured it was worth a shot to check at the restaurant, but no — no luck there. REI it must have been.
This brings us to an important life lesson: The problem with going shopping at night is that by the time you realize you’ve left your keys on the floor of the store, the store will be closed and locked until morning — which means that you will be essentially homeless for the next ten or so hours.
I thought for a minute about what I might do. I could have looked for a hotel, but the only ones nearby would have been very expensive. I contemplated finding a bench in the park, but I didn’t want to take the spot from a person who was actually homeless (or get murdered for witnessing whatever drug deals SURELY go on in city parks at night). Then I remembered that I still had the access card to my office building — so as long as my office door wasn’t locked (and it wasn’t), I could hole up there for the night! Problem kind of solved!!
As I walked back over to my office, I tried to convince myself that this was going to be lots of fun. I mean, what’s not to love about a slumber party by yourself on the floor of your office? Well, basically everything, it turns out. Like for example how watching Netflix at your desk still feels like a distraction from work, even it is 11:30pm on a Friday night. And how lying on the floor with no blanket and only a pad of paper and some pens for a pillow is mighty uncomfortable. Also cold.
By around 4:00am I was basically a frozen icicle. I grabbed the socks that I had bought at REI out of the bag, pulling one pair onto my hands like mittens and draping the other pair over my lower arms like tiny, ineffective blankets. I found a laptop cover and set that on my chest so that I could pretend that weight equaled warmth. Then I just lay there reminding myself that at least it wasn’t as cold as it was in Puno! (but still secretly wishing that I were in Puno, because then Amanda would be there, too).
That’s when it occurred to me (not for the first time!) that our nostrils have a design defect. When you’re freezing cold and huddling yourself together, the last thing you want is little puffs of wind blowing on your bare arms. BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT OUR NOSTRILS ARE APPARENTLY DESIGNED TO DO. Think about it — they’re pointed straight down, aiming each outgoing breath right at your poor bare arms, causing great discomfort and distress. You basically have a choice between holding your breath forever and freezing to death.
Seriously, if I ever have any say in evolution or creation, I’m going to vote for adjustable nostrils — like those air nozzles above your seat in an airplane — that you can swivel around to direct the air off of you.
Despite my non-adjustable nostrils, I managed to doze off for a couple more hours. Once the sun came up, though, the struggle seemed futile, so I got up and watched some more Netflix until Starbucks opened and I could get a hot chocolate. With that jolt of heat and sugar, things started looking up. The sun came out; the birds were singing. REI opened right on time and, praised be!, my keys were waiting for me right behind the customer service counter.
So, as they say, all’s well that ends well.
(And by way of post script, let me just say that the moral of this story is not that I need to start carrying my keys in my pockets (as some have suggested, ahem!), but rather that I need to stock my office with pillows, a blanket, toenail polish and some popcorn for the next time I have an impromptu slumber party.)