This I Believe

Mark - Stillwater, Oklahoma
Entered on July 26, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe the key to happiness is painfully simple.

I recently received a new wallet. Well, it was two Christmases ago I think but, I just got to the point when I needed to replace my old one.

Now, I know women do this sometimes everyday with purses but, for me, it’s more difficult. I inventoried the items that had been contributing to the pain in my butt for the last 4 or 5 years.

Driver’s license – quite handsome and yes that’s my real weight (on the moon).

Gas card. Did I pay that this month?

Two credit cards.

Insurance card.

Voter registration card – although I’ve moved 3 times since I got that one. It’s just easier to keep going to the old precinct than fill out a new card. Besides, I’d be forced to decide if I really wanted to switch parties or just keep on voting “the other way”.

An assortment of business cards of people whose services I will never use.

A phone number scrawled on a toothpick wrapper that was so important that I didn’t even bother putting the persons name on it.

A blank check (just in case) which serves as a reminder of my current account balance.

A coupon for a free round of miniature golf at a location that now looks surprisingly like a Starbucks.

No cash. I have a teenage daughter and a son in college. A school picture of each of them from, well, let’s just say it was a time when they still thought I was smart.

That’s about it. Oh, one more thing. Peeking out from that secret pocket – the one where I always think I’ve hidden a little “safety cash” – then I remember the kids. Again. There’s the card.

Once bright and highly laminated, it’s now scuffed and surprisingly dated looking. I’m transported back to the night when I received it. Funny that I would keep that card so long. The club has changed names three times since then and now it’s a mortgage company.

I met her there that night. My wife. Twenty-one years, eleven moves and two great kids ago. A lifetime of unforgettable memories traced back to this one card.

I turned the card over and read the conditions of membership. This was before liquor-by-the drink was allowed in the state so clubs got around the law by issuing free member cards. Although I’d carried it since that night I don’t think I’d ever read the back:

1.Be at least 21 years of age, dress and conduct yourself properly.

2.Abide by all rules, regulations and by-laws of the club.

3.This card is non-transferable.

4.I agree to the above conditions and understand that my membership is subject to cancellation without notice, explanation or refund.

Simple, I thought. Rules basic enough to live your whole life by.

I wish I had.

I wish she was here.

I wish I could give her this card and tell her that the secret to a happy life had been in my wallet for years.

It’s late. The task has taken me all night. I feel old. The tears have almost dried as I carefully slide the card into the secret pocket of my new wallet.