Princess: Rolling with the punches
“You’re good, honey,” I told Ryan after checking his passport to make sure it hadn’t expired. “Yours is still good until February.”
It was the first trip we’d taken in way too long. It had been so long, in fact, that I had to unearth our passports from their resting place deep in my desk drawer, wiping the dust from their laminated covers.
My own passport had expired in late September, only a few weeks before our scheduled departure date. Without enough time to have it renewed through the mail and not wanting to be bothered with standing in line at the passport agency in Denver, I sprang the $150 to have mine expedited within a week. Aside from the trauma I experienced after seeing two photos of myself taken 10 years apart, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Naturally my new passport arrived minutes before we planned to drive to Denver. I totally took that in stride, remembering the good old days when I literally flew by the seat of my pants and was totally accustomed to, if not masterful at, traveling in a somewhat haphazard manner. I was always losing the things I needed and then finding them in the same absentminded way I lost them in the first place. I tended to be calm if not downright lackadaisical in a crisis. “I’ve misplaced my wallet/passport/plane ticket,” I’d tell my now-panic-stricken travel companions. “I think I left it on the bus/train/taxi. But don’t worry. It’s like a boomerang. It’ll come back to me; it always does.”
So whenever something goes wrong, I’m pretty good at rolling with the punches.
But when it comes to travel mojo, Ryan and I don’t appear to have it as a married couple. I don’t know if it’s bad luck or the fact that I’ve somehow managed to marry the male version of myself, but it seems that together, we have twice as many issues as I had on my own.
Let’s just say so far it hasn’t been so good.
Pretty much every trip we’ve taken so far has been rife with disaster. Like the time we were delayed six hours on the way to New York City only to arrive in Brooklyn at 3 a.m. to discover our host wasn’t home. There was the time we flew to San Diego for a quick, easy little beach getaway and it rained for 72 hours straight during a record-breaking coastal storm. Once, we went to Boston in April and it was so windy and blustering cold that we literally had to run through the streets because we hadn’t packed any warm clothes — what, thinking it was a spring trip.
This trip began at one of those Denver airport park-and-fly hotels in a room that had the musty smell of an air conditioner that needs new filters and a mini fridge that hummed just loud enough to keep me up all night.
I was already exhausted when we arrived at the airport at 5:30 a.m. for our 7 a.m. departure. But we were amazed how easy our check-in was. There have been enough developments in technology since the last time we traveled to make me feel really old and way too out of touch.
“Put the passport face down,” the United employee instructed as I flipped it this way and that, so obviously an inexperienced international traveler.
Then it was Ryan’s turn. The machine beeped. Lights flashed. Alarms sounded. The entire airport went dark, and a spotlight beamed on us from above. Armed guards tackled us to the ground.
Of course that didn’t happen, but it felt like it might.
“It appears as though your passport has expired,” the woman said. “May I see it, please, sir?”
Ryan held up the passport and used his pointer finger to demonstrate. “Look here. It’s a mistake. See? It says, expiration date, February 2014.”
I nodded emphatically, arms crossed in front of my chest. I knew for a fact it expired in February because I checked it myself. “The computer is totally wrong,” I chimed in.
At this point, the nice United lady turned smug. “February 2014 was eight months ago.”
If there’s one thing I learned in that moment, it’s how rock-solid my marriage is. We did not freak out. We did not point fingers. We did not yell and scream at each other or kick each other in the shins. We just stood there, bleary-eyed, and blinked at each other like two baby chicks who had just hatched, the goop still crusty along our lashes.
I grabbed the directions to get to the passport agency I’d been trying so hard to avoid, thanked her and said, “Let’s do this.”
We got back to the car and began wildly programming the Garmin. We made it to the passport agency with time to spare. At 8 a.m., Ryan began to bang on the doors to get them to let him in. The butch security woman who looked exactly like you’d imagine was none too pleased. She begrudgingly unlocked the door, but just a sliver.
Ryan squeezed his lips through the crack and said, “I need to have my passport renewed.” He pointed at the hours of operation displayed on the door. “It says right here you’re open at 8 a.m., Monday through Wednesday.”
“It’s Thursday. We don’t open until 9,” the woman said, slamming the door in his face.
Thank God our flight was delayed, because we made our flight. The problem was we missed our connection in Houston and the last flight of the day to Cancun. Needless to say the airport Hyatt is not what we had in mind, especially considering that our somewhat expensive all-inclusive resort was already paid for.
When we finally did get to Cancun, everything was great — until Ryan decided to go swimming in the pool with my iPhone in his pocket.
The Princess is so happy to be home. Email your love to alisonmargo@ gmail.com.
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Tony Vagneur: Although hard to find these days, true root cellars are art, and can still be useful today.