“Do You Have Any American Cash?”

By , June 6, 2011

Just before Michelle left for an appointment in town this morning, she turned to me and asked, “Do you have any American cash?”

The oddity of this question struck me as much as the fact that I couldn’t answer immediately, but had to check my wallet.

It’s indicative of the upheaval we’ve experienced recently. When we took Aly to Canada for her field school, we decided to save money by exchanging U.S. currency for Canadian at our local bank. Using Canadian cash instead of our credit card saves us the 3% fee the card company assesses on the transaction. Since we’ll return to Whitehorse in July to retrieve Aly, and may drive her south to college at the end of the summer, we could afford to carry unused foreign currency for a while.

That trip has broken our summer in two, and distorted our already warped sense of time. A friend who came to town from Juneau with her daughter toward the end of May commented in an email that she regretted not seeing us while she was in town. I asked when she’d been in town—that trip seemed so long ago now that I automatically assumed she had returned to Haines more recently.

But the upheaval is more than temporal. With such a big part of our hearts and minds in Canada at the moment, we seem more oriented to that country right now than our own. We’re monitoring the news to hear the latest on the Canadian mail strikes, which affect communication with the field school. Our local roads are full of vehicles with Canadian license plates as Yukoners come down to participate in the beer festival, fish, and vacation. It’s hard not to think this way.

If that one trip has derailed me this much, I wonder what two of them will do?

As it turns out, I did have some U.S. cash, and could give her some. We try to carry a little cash at all times, but we use it so rarely, it’s easy to forget how much we have, or how long we’ve had it. At least we can trace the Canadian cash back to a specific day, as long as it lasts. Which, at this rate, should be a very long time.

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