For our first day of the Southern Nevada Writing Project's Summer Institute+, we were asked to bring in an artifact. After we shared a little story about our artifact, we were asked to do some writing inspired by our artifact. Because we have also been reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird as part of the institute, I had her style of writing in my head, and so I decided to imitate her stream of consciousness style (as best I could). This is what my artifact inspired me to write:
During what I now consider our first date, while walking the empty streets of London, I said to my husband, who was only a friend at the time, that I imagined traveling with him would be a lot of fun. It was my way of flirting and my way of fishing for a compliment of the sort that would sound like, “Me too!”
Because we had both been reluctant in our twenties, we decided that from now on we would Live with a capital L--even if that meant that we didn’t always conform to society’s or our families expectations. We would sleep 2 hours a night if that’s what it took to get things done, and we would drink lots of Red Bull to fuel our frenzied gusto for life. And, this also meant that we would take risks like taking trips abroad when we should have been safely gardening or the like.
One summer, we wanted to go to Prague, and although we were living dangerously, some reports on the news said that Prague was flooded and no fun at the moment; so we went to Luxembourg instead, which I had never even heard of but turned out to be lovely.
But, then the next summer, with our hearts set on Prague, we started making travel plans.
We booked the big tickets… the ones from McAllen, Texas to London Heathrow… the ones that cost $1100 dollars each. And, a few days later we sat down, having finally decided that, yes, this is the summer we get to walk on the St. Charles Bridge—the one in the first Mission Impossible movie where Angelina Jolie’s father fakes falling over in the fog and the night, and Tom Cruise runs frantically to and fro talking into his cufflink—that bridge. We were finally going to walk over that bridge.
So, we get on the website for RyanAir and start the booking for two cattle call seats from London Stansted to whatever the airport in Prague is called, and because we’ve made mistakes while booking tickets before (which we then needed to pay penalties for) we now book tickets together; and, we repeat numbers and dates and dollar amounts to each other as if they were launch codes; and, we make sure to turn the keys at the same time. So, this time, I am the one typing in information, and my husband is reading out the numbers to me. But, Ryan Air, although it’s the flights that only cost $104 (and you still get to sit) wants more information than the big ticket flights did.
Ryan Air wants our passport information, and as my husband reads out his British passport information, I tell him he read out the expiration date wrong.
We sit there smiling stupidly at each other and at the screen and at the passports looking back and forth trying to stay focused and not think about the Charles Bridge we both fantasize about running across as if it was a meadow in spring.
We finally communicate, and the dreadful truth finally reaches our brain synapses that
How can this be? Even though it’s his passport, I offer to take some of the blame and say I should have checked his passport when I checked mine earlier that year. And, we google British passport renewals; and, we download forms; and, an hour later we’re at the post office overnighting pleas for mercy to the British embassy in Washington D.C. And, we make a vow of silence. Once Uncle Sam has that envelope en route to Her Majesty, we promise not to speak a word of this debacle because we don’t want to jinx anything.
Every time either one of our families mentions the trip, we smile and nod and change the subject. It’s six weeks until our trip, and Her Majesty can take 2 months to issue her permission for travel (even when we included a bit more money to expedite the service.)
After only four weeks, when we get the passport in the mail, we take back all the mean things we have ever said about government agencies. And, we laugh and rejoice and say how much we always knew that we would get it in time, and then we confess to our families our faux pas.
We finally walk into the hotel hidden away down a cobbled, winding street in Prague, and near the reception area, they have a small fridge with drinks guests can purchase; and, that’s where I find my glass bottle of Red Bull. Having considered myself an expert Red Bull drinker, I had never know that it was produced in glass bottle form. So, I’m really grateful that Her Majesty sent my husband’s passport in time so that I could get my bottle of Red Bull in Prague.