Grounded. But Only Briefly.

This haphazard driving photo is just to document yesterday’s insane day trip to D.C.:


D.C. in a day is not an impossible thing to do from Raleigh, but it’s definitely unreasonable.  I love a road trip, but this one made me anxious.  Serves me right.  I let my passport expire.  Only by two weeks; I was waiting on my Christmas bonus to buy tickets and renew it, and then there was the office health crisis, and I let it all slide until we figured things out, and then we never figured things out and I booked the trip anyway.  Not only am I a giant procrastinator, I am counting my chickens before they hatch and pre-spending my tax refund.  (I used to be an adult.  I really really was.)

So, there were a lot of moving parts, and I booked the trip with two weeks’ notice.  I’m really not a girl who can live very long, psychologically, with an expired passport.  But the expired passport situation was not nearly as painful as the moment the nice man with the heavy Russian accent behind the window took my old passport away from me.  And I watched him cancel it, by punching holes in the cover.  It was like a punch to the gut.  That passport has a stamp from Barbados when I did a research biology trip counting sea turtles laying eggs on the beaches at night, and could tell time by watching the constellation Scorpio move across the sky till dawn.  There’s one from Costa Rica when I helped dig trenches in the pouring rain and came home with giardia.  Please. Do not ever get giardia.  My passport with the holes in the cover has four stamps in and out of the Port of Piraeus, and a beautiful visa for Tanzania, and a scribbled entry pass I got on a dock in Zanzibar.  There’s a big stamp from Cairo with the pyramids on it, and an important-looking one from Rome, and a tiny unassuming stamp from the Denpasar airport before I waded out in the ocean to hop a ferry next to someone carrying a rooster to get to an island off Bali, and there’s another one leaving Jakarta.  There’s a lovely one, my favorite, from Istanbul, and the latest one from Dublin.  That passport represents freedom, and curiosity, and beauty, and joy, and, well, lots of the things that make us all human.  And then….they took it away.

Gaaa. I did not intend to get all emotional, talking about my day trip to D.C.  But I started my day at 5:45 a.m, , and en route to dropping Dawg off at Julia’s, he threw up on me before dawn, and then again in the driver’s seat while I was getting him out of the car.  He hates the car that much.  I was frazzled, and tired, and anxious about having had to lay myself off the day before, and nervous about traffic and parking and making it to my appointment on time.  I was hassled and patted down and generally treated like a terrorism suspect on the way in to the passport office, because wow, those people Do Not Play.  I forgot there are metal rings on my favorite boots, which caused all kinds of mischief at security.

No big deal.  My new passport will arrive by Monday.  There will be lots of empty pages; a lovely blank canvas, except for the photo that really does make me look like a terrorism suspect.  Truly it’s that unflattering.  And my old passport, with all of the memories of adventure and the punched cover, will come back with it. That chapter, that last ten-year passport span, is closed; a new one begins. Of course, I can not flee the country at any point in the next weekend, but I probably won’t need to; I’m not a Bond Girl, nor any other kind of spy, and I’m not likely to jet off to Monte Carlo and gamble away the family fortune or anything in the next couple of days.

I won’t promise I won’t do that next week sometime though.

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