In August, I baby-sat my granddaughter, Charlotte, for four days while my daughter and her husband took an anniversary trip Up North. It was the best four days — and the most exhausting.
Charlotte and I hung out, read books, went swimming at the YMCA and played at the park. On Sunday morning, I decided to take Charlotte on one of my hikes. Highland Park Reserve seemed perfect. It was close and I could push her in the stroller.
At the trail, we headed toward Richardson Nature Center. Charlotte was content. Finnley the dog was walking nicely alongside us. Ahh, a wonderful hike with my granddaughter on a beautiful morning
No judging, just respect
That Sunday morning was a long way from the frantic time last summer when I was trying to figure out how to bank without a bank! After the bank closed my account and took all my money, I began my visits to a check-cashing place. My bank account was closed and so was Barry’s. I tried to open new accounts at many banks, but each time I came to the question on the application that asked if I ever had an account closed, I bolted or the bank rejected me. Once as I sat waiting for a banker to help me, my heart pounded hard as I imagined someone jumping out to arrest me for bad credit. I just had to learn to relax and breathe!
I became very, very scared of banks. But the check-cashing place was cool — no one judges you. The first time I went, I stood in line, again with a pounding heart. What if they wouldn’t cash my check? How would I pay the rent? I fixed my eyes on a poster of happy people getting cash and let my mind go blank. I looked around and everyone was staring off into space. No one really visits with each other in line. We all just wait, hope and try to relax until it’s our turn at the teller window.
I never really got comfortable at the check-cashing place, but the women behind the thick plexiglass windows were kind and treated everyone with respect. Although I lost a lot of money in fees at the place, it was worth it. We started living on cash and paying our bills at the check place.
At the same time, I was trying hard to pay back the bank. The first time the bank called demanding their money, I was so scared that I brought cash to the check place for a money order and hurried off to pay the bank. But the bank teller said the bank only accepts cash for payment on this type of account. So I ran back to the check place, waited in line for another 30 minutes, cashed the money order and ran back to the bank with cash in hand.
Keeping your head above water
I tried to relax, but when I turned over the cash to the teller, I started to cry. I was tired and frustrated about how much time and work it takes just to keep your head above water. Then the bank teller touched my hand and said, “Don’t feel shame. I have been where you are. You will survive this.” She was right; I have survived.
Now a year later I was hiking with my granddaughter. We had gone about two miles when I decided to take Charlotte out of the stroller so she could see a fuzzy caterpillar. Big mistake! Each time I tried to put her back in the stroller, she arched her back and cried. She wanted to walk. So that’s what we did. It was a long slow walk with Finnley getting tangled up in the stroller and Charlotte trying to run ahead. Eventually I had to carry her, hold on to the leash and push the stroller with one hand.
A few walkers asked if they could help. “Thanks, but we’re OK,” I said as we slowly made our way. These days I have learned to relax. Not much gets to me anymore. On this Sunday morning, I had tired arms, an exhausted baby and a confused dog when we finally got to my car. And I loved every minute of it.
Charlotte and I will try a Highland Park hike again next spring!