The Passport Drama
I've alluded to the passport drama a few times and have yet to write it down. I feel like I should have it down somewhere just so nothing like that ever happens again!!
As you can imagine, before we left for Fiji, things in Atlanta were crazy. I had plans every night because I just couldn't get enough time with the people I love. I had to pack up the whole house (with Warren's help before he left). I was working full time at a new job up until the last couple of weeks prior to departure. And as I mentioned, Warren left 2 months before we did, so I was single parenting two kids in the middle of a big transition that missed their daddy. My life felt nuts! I feel like I was barely holding it together in some ways, but also just floating through...without allowing myself to get too stressed out, overwhelmed, or emotional.
The final week was amazing in Atlanta was amazing with great going away dinners, parties for the kids, and just in general a lot of love flowing. My mom was there to help and things were flowing as smoothly as expected. The plan was for the movers who came on Thursday to pack out all of the things that were going on the boat to Fiji. The movers on Friday were to pack out all of the things we would be putting in storage (our furniture, winter clothes, etc.) It was a bizarre feeling being in the home as the movers were packing all of our things away. Surreal. There were so many things that Warren and I had not thought about like emptying the weed whacker of oil, the lawn mower of gas, what to do with all of spices, refrigerated stuff and alcohol. In between monitoring the movers, I attended the girls going class going away parties.
Finally, the movers were almost finished. Everything was out of our house and almost all packed into the moving truck. The sun was setting. Mom and I had planned on leaving for Virginia hours earlier, but it took longer than we thought, as these things do. Luckily, the girls were both at their besties' houses waiting to picked up for the long drive. As I was strapping the DVD players onto the back of the seats, Warren calls from Fiji to check in on everything. We spoke for a few minutes and then he asked, "Do you have the passports and the one way entry letter into Fiji?".
My stomach drops. I think I am going to throw up. Literally, I truly thought I was going to vomit right there in the street. I have the hugest, most hysterical reaction I've ever had to anything in my life, even more so than when Warren nearly died from a car accident years ago. I had no idea where the passports were. How could I have done all that planning, packing, moving without thinking about the most important documents? Where was my brain??? I balled and balled and nearly hyperventilated in the street. My sobs were those deep sobs coming from some crazy place inside. I think I scared all of the movers and my mom too. I had been so calm through all of the goodbyes and preparation for departure. Everyone around me was crying when we said goodbye, but I just felt like a robot, going through the motions. Well, it all came out right there in a big crying mess in the street.
I think my hysterics helped Warren to be calm with me instead of angry. We retraced our steps and both remember that right before he left he showed me the passports and placed all the important documents into a manilla envelope either in the dresser or the men's jewelry case on top of the dresser. Well, the dresser was somewhere packed in to the storage truck and the men's jewelry case was with the boat shipment. By now it was dark outside and the movers were not about to unpack the whole truck to look for our passports. (By the way, we have diplomatic government passports, tourist passports,and a one way entry letter into the country....not easily replaced). One of the movers took mercy on me and agreed to meet me first thing in the morning at the warehouse to look through the storage boxes. There was no way we were going to leave for Virginia that night, despite all of the wonderful plans for the weekend there.
Allison and Tom took our family in for the night. I was a wreck most of the night in between tears and numbness. Allison suggested we go on a run at 11:00 p.m. and it definitely helped lift my spirits and clear my head. The next morning we went to the warehouse and they had already unpacked the dresser and the things close to the dresser. No passports, except expired ones. SO.....the only option left was to open up the boat shipment. The boat shipment was five huge wooden crates that were packed so tight it was like a tetris game to get all of our stuff in there. These crates were huge...like the ones you may have seen in Madagascar, the cartoon movie. The moving company was amazing and told me there were not enough men there on Saturday, but on Monday morning they would unpack all of the crates and look until they found the passports. They advised me to go on to Virginia because we would not be allowed on the warehouse floor with them on Monday anyway, due to liability reasons. They were so kind to me, they even took the blame...saying they should have asked me before they started packing if I had all of my important documents...like the passports. Of course, I know it's my fault that I stupidly forgot to think about the passports...but it was nice of them to say anyway.
As distraught as we were, I think Warren may have been even more upset. He had been away from us for a long time...all by himself, in an empty house, very far away from home. He was ready for us to be there and now the delay meant not only would he spend Christmas alone, but also New Years Eve. At one point we thought it may even be months before we got there if we had to wait on this one way entry letter (coming from Fiji).
Mom, the girls and I drove to Virginia feeling very hopeful they'd find the all of the documents we needed. They said they would call me first thing Monday when they found them. Monday morning I woke up early, checking my phone. I called around 9 a.m. just to check if they had started. They had, but still no passports. I called around 12. Still no passports. I was starting to feel sick, but there was A LOT for them to unpack. I called again around 2:30. No passports yet. They called me at 4:30 saying they had gone through 90% of our stuff, but still no passports...but also, no men's jewelry case either (where we thought the passports were). I called back around 6, but they had all gone home. Ugh. Things were not looking good. I couldn't sleep that night.
The next morning around 10, my favorite mover called me personally and told me he had looked through the men's jewelry case and did not see the passports. I panicked. I called Tom and Allison, who happened to work close to the warehouse, and asked them to go check out the case to make sure it was the correct one. They went. It was. There were no passports. Tom and Allison told me that all of our stuff was laid out on the warehouse floor. They had been through everything. There were no passports and there was no one way entry letter. I was devastated, but not in hysterics like before.
I was at my friend's Susan's house and we started to plan immediately. I was on the phone with DC passport agencies, Peace Corp's travel agent, and Warren for hours. This was Tuesday and the passport offices were closed on Thursday and Friday due to Christmas and we were scheduled to fly out on Sunday. I had one possible day to rectify the situation. I immediately went and got passport photos for the girls and I. I rushed to my parents house and decided to drive up to D.C. that night. Thank goodness I have amazing in-laws that welcomed us in with open arms. That night I spent hours filling out paperwork that Warren spent hours preparing in hopes that we could get new passports in one day. We were not sure if it would work because both parents are supposed to present for kids to get passports, with very few exceptions...like incarceration. Warren sent a zillion notarized documents via the computer, but of course you couldn't see the raised seal...so it was a toss up if we even had proper documentation or enough time.
|Do I look dazed? My face says it all. (Aww man, my lost passport photo was so cute!)
|At least the girls still look cute.
Anne (Warren's mom) and I schlepped the girls into the pouring rain of downtown D.C. to be first in line for the passports. Luckily, because we have diplomatic passports, the line was virtually non-existent, while the line for the regular passports was out of control. The lady behind the window looked at all our documents, asked the girls a few questions, smiled and said, "We should be able to make this happen." HALLELUJAH! We had to hang around for hours, but half an hour before they closed (2:30 p.m.) all three of us had passports. It was amazing! I was so relieved. Prior to the passport drama I had so many mixed feelings about getting on the plane for the long trek here, but now, mostly, I was just relieved to be getting on the plane. We were able to find a loop hole in the one way entry letter and the rest is history. Here we are in Fiji.
Side note- I still don't know where the passports are. I swear I don't remember ever moving them from their original location. I never even thought about them after Warren showed me where they were, but then again, my brain is going...so maybe I did something crazy with them that I in no way remember. Warren does not remember moving them either. I don't think they were stolen...so they are probably somewhere in our possession. Our boat shipment should get here in late February or early March. I'll keep you posted. I'm secretly hoping that we never find them...so no one gets any blame in the situation. For now, it's still a mystery.