life lessons in bubble wrap

November 10th, 2021

It wasn’t long ago that I took a trip, my first trip in what seemed like forever. So I was out of practice, which made me nervous, and I forgot a number of important things along the way. That’s what this story is about.

Practically speaking, when you take a morning flight out of LAX you’ll have to leave home in the middle of the night to get to the airport on time. I left home in the middle of the night, and before I’d driven half a block I realized I’d left my computer power cord plugged into my bedroom wall. I kept going, though, since I didn’t believe a trip to LAX for a pre-dawn flight allowed for any U-turns.

You see, when you arrive at LAX at any time of the day or night these days you will immediately realize that you are not in proverbial Kansas anymore, and furthermore, you are not in any zip code, time zone or nation-state where you thought you lived. You are instead in a raging flow of people, sounds, languages, lights and chaos, a rough-and-tumble reality otherwise unseen, and one in which your only ambition is to mind your own business and keep going.

I landed in New York City later that day entirely intact except for my missing power cord. Crazed with doubt that they even made power cords for my obsolete eight-year-old laptop which no longer holds a charge or even closes all the way, my first stop was the Apple Store, where an utterly unruffled representative behind a pristine white counter swiped through a catalog on her handheld device and said three words that chimed like crystal to my stopped-up ears: We have it.

Four days later I left my Kindle on a side table in my daughter’s apartment, a sad fact realized mere moments into the trip to the Newark airport and a flight bound for the furthest regions upstate. I’ll send it, my daughter texted, and I eased back into the contoured seat of my ride.

Six days later I left two prescription bottles in the bathroom of a hotel room, a grave certainty grasped as I boarded an airport van for an all-day return trip home. We’re checking the room right now, I was told, my life now held in the hands of a reassuring front desk clerk back in Buffalo.

The Kindle arrived in a bubble mailer, double wrapped in another bubble mailer, on which my daughter had written her aim, For extra protection!

The prescriptions came encased in a weave of bubble wrap so impenetrable it could have contained the crown jewels and not my teensy thyroid and blood pressure pills.

I was overcome, really, at the repeated acts of such service and care, attention and concern. How thorough, how reliable, how very noble and good! And not just with my replaceable things, but with each irreplaceable other! We are going to have to count on people, I realized anew. We’re going to have to help each other. We’re going to have to give a damn, and not spend so much time being fed up and bothered. And we’ll probably have to step outside our cozy little bubble to learn it.

All this is to say, I love you.


  1. I love you too.

    Comment by Marcea — November 10, 2021 @ 12:21 pm

  2. I love you too ❤
    (And maybe even a little more hearing how your humanity spills over into lost things. Thanks for keeping it real.) 

    Comment by Bonnie Rae — November 10, 2021 @ 12:37 pm

  3. How I relate. A simple road trip, four hours away to welcome Summer Solstice in the mountains, as soon as I unpacked I realized I’d left my “must take daily” medications at home. And the kindness of strangers and technology that had it all resolved in minutes. So often I am overcome with such kindnesses, and try to offer the same in return, though often fail. And start again…
    Much love and kindness to you.

    Comment by Katharine — November 10, 2021 @ 1:01 pm

  4. Thank you once again for a wonderful reminder of how to live better. I (we) really do need to remember how essentially good and helpful our fellow humans are.

    Comment by Tom — November 10, 2021 @ 3:25 pm

  5. I love you too.

    Comment by Dee — November 10, 2021 @ 4:40 pm

  6. Oh my goodness, I love this so much. Thank you. The helpers are out there, but maybe it is just important that we see them, even when the help is so simple. And to recognize that we do the same for others.

    Comment by Gretchen Staebler — November 10, 2021 @ 6:45 pm

  7. One must depend on the kindness of strangers. Thanks for your continued writing – from balky toddlers to apartments in other cities, the journey continues for now.

    Comment by Chris Lane — November 15, 2021 @ 12:00 pm

  8. Good to hear from you, Chris. We carry on.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — November 15, 2021 @ 12:22 pm

  9. Ant killer! And one who does not refrain from gossip with her “life long best friend.” How lucky that person is! I have not tuned in to your blog in some time. I had thought awhile back that you would not write so much any more. Well, clearly you are back. You never left, did you. We are still here trying to refrain from paying too much attentions to our accumulating years. Your trip through airports attests to your bravery and humility, writing about it as well. I thought you maybe would not laugh as I listened to your “refraining” talk, but then it happened. Thank you for your good example, even when you are not a good example, and your willingness to admit it.

    Comment by Larry Misiak — November 15, 2021 @ 8:18 pm

  10. I too have left things travelling. In Spain a zip locked bag of clothes our guide went above and beyond to get those back to me at one of our next travel stops.

    And this summer a magnifying mirror suctioned the bather mirror of a fly in fishing resort Aikens Lake in Northern Manitoba. They also went above & beyond in helping my husband who was disabled needing a knee replacement. Giving him a golf cart to travel the resort, moving us to a delux cabin with no stairs, guides helping him in and out of boats and up rocky terrain for shore lunches.

    The kindness of people around us is what makes the world a better place! #KindnessMatters

    Comment by Shawn Trotter — November 26, 2021 @ 5:08 am

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