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Two-Minute Change

Inspired by Cultivating Thought

I like to carry cash nowadays. It feels like reading a crinkled newspaper or drinking tea with friends: a custom of the past that has been wrestled out of fashion by convenience. There’s a certain magic in revealing a banknote in exchange for coffee cake, or a bicycle bell, or an order of salty french fries; the warm thought of safeguarding antiquity.

“Your change is $5.03,” sings the bubbly cashier.

I hold out my palm to receive four Lincolns: three pennies and a crisp five. An ex-girlfriend taught me this little game: stow away every five dollar bill that enters your wallet. Last year, I flew to Austin, Texas on a whim. I paid with a bundle of fives wrapped in a rubber band buried in my sock drawer. Stuffing the bill into my jeans, I smile quirkily at the cashier. She doesn’t know about my secret savings account.

Pausing again, I bring the three copper pieces to my nose, flipping them all heads up. I have terrible eyesight, you see, so I need them quite close to decipher their tiny mint dates.

“1990” reads the first. The era of Bush Senior. The year Momma brought me to life.

2008″ I fell in love in May. She told me she loved me first. Sometimes I sing “No Woman No Cry” under my breath and remember the night we broke up.

“2012” In the middle of the darkness, I looked up and saw a galaxy. You were there, holding my hand, wishing it was warmer. It felt like a dream.

The coins jingle in my grip as the memories gloss over. Suddenly a man clears his throat behind me. I’m still in line. Like a wet dog, I shake my head and peel back to reality, my blinking eyes finding the peppy grin of the cashier.

Keep this,” I murmur, gently pouring the money into the tip jar. “Thanks for smiling so much.”

1990, 2008, 2012 slip away from my hand. I walk out of the coffee shop, lighter.

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