Updated: May 29, 2021
Neither my daughter nor I can remember exactly when this started, so I’ll need to begin in the middle. We “share” a tiny traveler. A little guy, small in stature, he's less than one inch tall but measured from tip to toe including his staticky electric pink hair he's almost 3 inches tall.
An endearing tradition, our vagabond's escapades encompass elements from the Flat Stanley Project, Where's Waldo? The Elf on the Shelf and Hot Potato. In the last two decades, our tiny troll has traveled widely from Australia to NYC and enjoys living in incredibly small spaces. He would have lots of tales to tell if only he could talk.
About the time Courtney left for college, she found him at eye level suspended from some fishing wire fastened to the doorframe of her bedroom after he made an apparent and respectable attempt to bungee jump.
I claimed (with a very straight face) that I had no idea how he managed to get into that predicament. And since there was no one else living with us at the time, it seemed pretty clear to us both that, well, he had arranged quite an impressive feat on his own.
After that, it was "game on!" And since we are both creative and quite competitive, there's definitely an aspect of "Can You Top This? when planning for his next adventure.
Since then, he has appeared, disappeared and reappeared in the craziest, most unexpected places. The surprise of finding him when least expected is always fun and strategically designed to catch the other off-guard.
During a weekend trip with a friend, I uncovered him bundled up in some warm rolls in the bread basket at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in NYC. Knowing my plans, Courtney had visited the restaurant that morning and beseeched the staff to be complicit in our little voyager's exploits.
From coat pockets, boots, mittens and socks to being encased in seemingly sealed bags of pistachio nuts or M & Ms, he has been discovered in the most unusual places. I found him in the shower dangling by a long piece of dental floss. I bumped into him hanging from my visor as I got into my car one night and thought there was a tarantula in my car. While out dancing one night I discovered him pinned to the inside of my skirt.
And not only does he appear in different places but he appears in different outfits with appropriate accessories as well.
When my daughter was dealing with some very difficult and noisy neighbors in New York City he appeared on her apartment doorstep wearing headphones fashioned out of pom-poms and pipe cleaners.
During the pandemic, he arrived in the mail hidden in an N95 mask wearing a mask of his own that Courtney fashioned from some thread and a shred of paper towels.
The day before I traveled to Utica for my COVID vaccination, he arrived in a box of cookies holding a syringe and wearing an "I Got My Vaccine!" button.
We love our little stowaway. Trying to outdo the other has become a continual challenge.
I can’t wait to see where he appears next.