Taxes and Time Capsules

Taxes. Is there anything that fills the heart with more dread than dragging out the files (or shoeboxes) of receipts and putting together a coherent story for your accountant?

I’ve been in the thick of my tax prep today, with three bins of documents headed for the shredder dating back to 2007 (why am I keeping ten year old documents? I have no answer.)

Having been self-employed for a good bit of my life, I tend to keep all receipts, even ones that I probably don’t need–just in case. And after a decade, some of the receipts are pretty well worn, and I have no idea what they were for.

But a lot of the receipts are still clear and easy to read, and I find it is taking me ten times longer than it should to get them to the shredder because it’s as if I’ve opened a time capsule as I look at them. Who knew doing taxes would be like reading old pages of your diary?

I know that I traveled a lot those years, because I’ve got every boarding pass ever used. See what you’re missing out on, those of you who do the mobile boarding pass thing? How many of your trips do you remember?

I can tell you that I went to New York in 2006 and again in 2007, because I have boarding passes for flights from O’Hare to LaGuardia and receipts for the Helmsley Hotel. Those trips? For meetings at the UN I was attending while working on getting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities passed.

Boarding passes for flights to Doha, Qatar in 2008 and 2009? I was invited to attend the Shafallah Forum, an international conference on disability issues hosted by the Shafallah Center, a center created to provide education for children with disabilities in Qatar. And the best memory of that trip? That it was my husband’s first trip out of the country, and we took it together. I remember thinking how brave it was of him to jump on a 15 hour flight no questions asked just to be with me. I don’t think he slept a wink the whole flight. Me? Dinner, glass of wine, lights out. Not the best travel companion for a nervous traveler, but he made it through and we had a fabulous trip.

A hotel receipt for LaFonda in Santa Fe? That’s where I spent my first wedding anniversary.  Wandering the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, drinks at the Inn of the Anasazi on their lovely heated outdoor patio, breakfast at Tia Sophia’s where I get my huevos rancheros “Christmas” style, with both red and green chile.

Receipts from the Silk Market in Beijing. I was there during the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Jesse was with me again, by this time a veteran international traveler. In addition to seeing the Games, visiting the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City, we learned all about how to shop like a pro at the Silk Market, how to haggle with the vendors like we belonged there.

United Airlines receipts for Copenhagen. That’s where I went for the Chicago 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid presentation to the International Olympic Committee. There, I got to share the stage with President and Mrs. Obama to make the case why Chicago should get the Games. We were not successful in our pitch, but it is a day in my life I will not soon forget.

Wonder what memories next year’s time capsule will unlock?

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