Maybe one day I’ll look back and think this story is funny. But, right now I’m relieved, not laughing.
Yesterday morning, still blissfully unaware of the roadblock I was about to hit, I posted a little thing about joy. It was about how I missed it, how I wanted it, and how I was going to look for it in the small stuff this holiday season. Great, fine.
I then went upstairs to change into my running clothes. As I pulled on my shoes, a question came into my head- seemingly out of nowhere, “Hey you! Did your passport expire in October? I think it did. You might want to check.”
If you’re familiar with our travel plans, you might understand the system jolt and wave of nausea that came next. It was Thanksgiving Day. We were scheduled to leave for Paris the next day- my girls, my sisters, and my mom. It’s not something that just came up last week. We’ve been planning and talking about it for, like, MONTHS. I stood on the hamper to reach top of the closet, falling through the wicker top. I didn't care. I pulled down the fire-safe box, climbed out of the laundry, and confirmed my suspicion. Yep. My passport had expired on October 16, 2018.
Brian watched the scene (and my rising panic) from his side of the bed then shifted into superhero gear. He started with all the right words to turn the volume and intensity down the “I’m such a fucking idiot” loop spewing out of my mouth. He assured me everything would be okay and started planning.
Both on our phones and computers, we paid for services from a 24-hour passport company, made an appointment at the DC passport office for first thing Friday morning, called CVS to confirm they’d take a passport picture, and called United to check on alternative flights.
I then had to call my family. Gulp.
They were busy chilling Chardonnay and mashing potatoes. Sensing the urgency wasn’t about a missing Thanksgiving ingredient, they gathered around on the speaker phone to hear the news. There was a small gasp folled by a second of silence. And then, they too swung into action- more reassurances and more practical solution-ing.
Within minutes the bat call went out to every friend and family member associated with the State Department or anyone they’d heard of who’d needed a passport in a hurry.
The resounding answer that came back was, yes. It's possible to get a passport on the same day. "Just get there early, have all your paperwork, and be patient."
We agreed not to talk about it at Thanksgiving- as I wasn’t going to tell the girls. I couldn't tell the girls. I was facing one of the biggest mom fails in history. I couldn't stand it.
We had a lovely Thanksgiving and everyone played their part. Back home, worry set in again. Random memories popped and popped. I recalled a meeting here, parking there, a dinner conversation, and various phone calls. I kept asking myself, “why didn’t I think of it then? That would have been a great time to remember the expiration date. Why was it triggered the day before the trip while putting on my running shoes?" I don’t know but have a guess.
I couldn't sleep last night and wasn’t surprised. I had one shot.
At 7:45am this morning, I went through security at the big downtown passport office. I was greeted by an army of pleasant staff and an incredibly efficient operation. I kept looking for the person I'd have to plea and cry to. They seemed completely unphased and just did their jobs.
Three hours later, I had my brand-new passport in hand.
The last couple of months, I’ve had some intermittent anxiety and difficulty focusing. Feeling far from home or disconnected makes these feelings worse. Early one morning this past week, I was teary when I whispered a guilty thought to Brian. I wasn’t really looking forward to the trip. I know this sounds so totally awful and selfish and ungrateful. And, I’m sorry about that.
The funny thing, though, is this. The moment the trip was in jeopardy, getting on the plane became all I wanted to do. The anxiety and distraction evaporated. Perhaps it was the universe’s way of smacking me in the face with a little perspective- five days in a beautiful city with some of my favorite people in the world. I can do this.
In a couple hours, we are off. And for that, I am so thankful.
Given the whirlwind over the last couple of hours. I’ve decided to augment my little joy-spotting project with gratitude. I am so, so grateful. Grateful for Brian who is always on my team. Grateful to my family for their strength and positivity. Grateful for street parking right outside of the passport office. Grateful to the most cheerful CVS clerk who snapped my picture on Thanksgiving morning. Grateful to anyone who reads my ramblings. And, of course, so, so grateful for the opportunity to spend this time with my girls, sisters, and mom.
Gros bisous! Until we meet again... in Paris!