Yesterday, my teenage daughter participated in a big biannual equestrian competition. She and a teammate rode a 6-mile marked course through woods and fields, through water, over fences, logs, and embankments. The goal was to get as close as possible to an optimum ride time — which is paced by an expert rider earlier that day and not revealed until the awards banquet that evening. In theory, if you are riding efficiently, but safely, you should be close to the target time. (Another horse mother once called it a "crap shoot," and there's an element of truth there too.) At any rate, it's called a "Hunter Pace" and takes place in a truly bucolic setting about an hour north of Boston.
The first time she rode in this event, my husband and I had no idea what we were in for. At a three-phase show, you can watch your rider do dressage and jump in a stadium. Then they go off on a cross-country course, but only for five or seven minutes. In a Hunter Pace, you're lucky if you see the first and last two jumps. The rest of the course — an hour or more — you're stuck waiting around. After we figured it all out that first year, we had just one question ...
"Where are the Bloody Marys?"
Over the (many) years since, we've focused on the art of tailgating. It all began with a Mexican serape, the Boston Globe and some muffins. Then we graduated to those folding chairs that soccer moms use. Then a folding table. Eventually, my husband found an oriental rug at an odd lots warehouse store. Add some champagne and orange juice, ripe strawberries, bagels, spreads and smoked salmon, and ... voila! We were transported to an earlier, horsier, classier time.
"Carson, please pass the cream cheese and lox."
This year, we invited two couples to join us, as well as the other parents from our daughter's stable. The day was foggy at first but it soon burned off and we were left with bright sun and clear skies. From our vantage point, near a flowering tree in front of the first set of jumps, we watched my daughter and her partner, and then dozens of other teams head off. Meanwhile, our new puppy played with another family's Jack Russel and sneaked bites of ... well... pretty much anything he could get his paws on. It was an idyllic day.
Until I lost my iPhone.
First of all, for the record, I rarely lose anything, much less an expensive smartphone. I will confess that there had been much bubbly enjoyed and that once it was time to pack up, everyone had already had a bit too much fun and sun. It was a little chaotic. Also, the terrain was not exactly on my side in terms of being able to find said missing phone. There were acres of tall grass and dandelions. Horses, trailers and cars coming and going. Plus the restroom facilities consisted of a single port-a-potty. I don't think my phone was in my pocket when I used it, but ...
I don't want to think about it.
At any rate, I was well-fed, a little sunburned and without a phone. We went back to our picnic area — twice — but no luck. I tried the "Find my iPhone" app on my iPod when I got home. No luck. At the awards banquet (btw, my daughter came in third, mentions the proud mama), we left our number with the event coordinator, just in case. But, it was becoming pretty damn clear.
The iPhone was gone, girl.
This morning, I took a two-hour break from work and drove to the nearest Apple Store at a mall three towns over. Fortunately, I qualified for an upgrade. Unfortunately, I didn't have my old phone to trade in. The difference was $189 out of pocket. (Wait, isn't "out of pocket" how I got into this mess in the first place?)
I told myself what I always tell my daughter. "It's a thing, not a person. It's just money, not life or death." Still, $189 is $189.
I'm trying not to think about it.
The remarkable thing, the truly amazing thing, is that it really was just about money. Thanks to the "cloud" (and my fairly anal retentive backup routine — I never lost a phone before, but I've lived through some fairly horrific computer crashes), virtually all my data, apps, contacts, photos and music are back. I lost some money (did I mention it was $189?) and some time, but otherwise, my life and my phone will go on exactly as before. Exactly.
We warn our teenagers to be careful. That everything online is permanent.
For the first time, I can say that I'm glad it is.
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