We had to make last minute airline reservations. The next morning I found two emails from our credit card company asking if I recognized the transaction. My partner, who made the reservations, had already gone to the gym. After I stopped screaming when I saw that the second email informed me the charges had been declined, I went downstairs in search of her phone to find the confirmation email of the reservation. There was no email. I felt a small measure of dirty relief that at least we now shared the blame: I hadn’t seen the emails from the credit card company and she hadn’t noticed that there was no confirmation email. I went back to the emails from the credit card company and hit the “Yes, I recognize the charges” button but I suspected that wasn’t going to preserve our reservations. I went to the airline’s website but couldn’t check our reservation without a reservation code—which would have been in the confirmation email. I looked to see if the flights were still available. They were not. It was now well after 7:30 the time at which Laura said she’d be home from the gym.
I sat at the table and thought about mindfulness and non-judging awareness and how, in this moment, they both seemed utterly irrelevant. In this moment, my habit of seeing the worst possible outcomes, my capacity for judging my partner, and my conviction that we were going to have an ugly, stress-filled morning felt perfectly justified. With a smirk on my face I answered the three key questions: What is my mind doing? Racing, panicking, raging. What emotions do I feel? Anger and fear. How do I feel in my body? Tense, tense, tense. Then I started talking out loud as if to further convince myself that my reaction was reasonable. “I am frustrated that this happened. I’m angry that I didn’t look at my email once more last night. I’m mad at Laura for not noticing that she didn’t get a confirmation email. I’m mad that she’s not back from the gym and I’m dealing with this all by myself.” Then I got up and went into the family room to straighten up. I don’t know why. But while I was in there I realized I could call the credit card company and see what they could do. As I was talking to the credit card rep, being assured that she could not reinstate the reservation but that the next time we tried it would go through, Laura came home. I got off the phone and told her what had happened. She said, “Oh, okay. Yeah, I wondered why there was no confirmation email.” She went to get a piece of paper where she’d written down the reservation code. When she came back we looked up our reservation and saw its status was “pending.” We called the airline, waited ten minutes for a callback, they resubmitted the reservation, and all was well again.
As we sat in the kitchen drinking coffee, I said, “You really didn’t seem upset by this whole thing” She looked at me, the picture of innocence, and said, “Well we talked about this. I’m trying to be calmer about things.” My laughter was loud and long. We had indeed talked about this just the day before when she asked me to teach her more about mindfulness. I said, “Well you sure are a quick study.” And I am not and that’s okay.