“We have a problem,” my husband bellows as he walks up the stairs to our bedroom. It’s 10:00 p.m. and I’m making the hard decision between taking my black sequined, strappy heels or using my Teva sandals as dress shoes for when we’re in New York City.
“I can’t find your passport,” he calmly reports. In less than 9 hours we are departing for our 6-week epic, family journey. We go downstairs and start looking for my little blue book, but it’s not in any of the usual places.
Just 8 weeks earlier we were racing to pick up the kids from school to take them to a mid-day appointment at the post office (aka passport agency) where they only track appointments in pencil on an old-fashioned spiral paper calendar. The passport agency requires both parents and the children to be present to obtain passports for minors. Somehow I missed the “children must be present” part when I scheduled the appointment. We made it to the appointment on time and were told we had just the right amount of time for the passports to be mailed before our trip. Mission accomplished. The passports line item got checked off our travel to-do list. Until tonight.
Where did I last have my passport? I’m thinking. “Paris,” I say, to my husband. “We both had ours, I flew back to Orlando, you flew back to my parents to pick up the kids.” Two weeks, after our anniversary trip to Paris last year, I finished final projects for grad school, and we packed up 12 years of household collections into a moving truck and drove two cars, our camper, the cat and the dog to a new state. I hadn’t seen my passport since our trip.
With a heavy sigh, I told myself to remain calm. We have 9 whole hours to find it. What’s the worst case scenario? I came up with three options: 1. We leave a day late so I can spend tomorrow searching for it. 2. We don’t cross over to Canada on our trip. Maybe my husband and the kids go, but I stay back. 3. We leave for the trip as planned and I request an expedited replacement and pay the fees. None of these options were making me feel better.
We’ve been planning this trip for over a year, trying to maximize sabbatical time my husband has accrued working for a company with generous employee benefits. We’re thankful for the benefit of this time and are trying to make the most of it, recognizing it as a gift. We’re traveling up and down the east coast of the United States in a 25-foot travel trailer. We’ll be stopping in places like: Pennsylvania, the coast of Maine, Boston, New York, Hershey, Penn, Washington DC, and the beaches of Virginia.
And, thankfully, we’ll make it to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Within an hour of my husband’s discovery of my missing passport, we located the little blue book with stamps from France, neatly tucked into a folder with other important papers also waiting to be found.