It was not entirely unsurprising when something went wrong.
But this time, things went wrong before the trip even began. The worry started to build in my gut as I looked through files, bags, boxes, compartments. It wasn’t in any of the usual or expected places.
It had been a busy few weeks. I graduated college. I moved out of the house I had been living in with friends and back in with my mom. I traveled to another state for an interview. We prepped for my sister’s graduation party and out-of-town guests. We hosted those guests. I started packing for the next week’s departure to India for our last hurrah trip with our dad.
Since I was living in limbo, my belongings were mostly strewn about my mom’s basement in half unpacked boxes and overflowing bags. Make a pile. Unmake a pile. Pack something. Repack it somewhere else. In an effort to reduce the chaos, I decided to gather necessities together in one big pit behind my bedroom door. Then I could stash the rest of my belongings under the stairs to create an appearance of neatness for my sister’s grad party guests. The artifacts of my life secreted away behind doors. I knew I needed my passport in the accessible pile. But each time I remembered another location where it might turn up, I found receipts, records, and trinkets but no dark blue booklet. To keep the last glimmer of hope burning, I stopped looking and furiously pushed boxes away so that I could help host the grad party.
As soon as my dad arrived, I debated whether I should tell him the truth. I couldn’t find my passport. With the travel visa I needed. That I had submitted and received months earlier. To release some of the anxious tension, I decided that I needed to come clean. “Dad, don’t worry. I’m going to keep looking, but I can’t find my passport. I remember putting it somewhere safe where it wasn’t going to get lost in the move. I can’t find it at the moment, but it’ll turn up.”
“Well, isn’t that typical,” my dad said snarkily. It was meant to seem like humor, comic relief. But it left me drowning in a wave of disapproval. As though I had done this on purpose. Like I was trying to sabotage our time together.
That night I kept searching. The next morning we dug through trash. I called a rental textbook company, thinking maybe I had put the passport in the return box. In my moving brain, it seemed logical that a brightly colored return box would have been a safe place. They offered regrets but said there was no way for them to check their warehouse. I processed everything in my car. I indexed everything in my mom’s car. 18 paperclips, a ticket stub, 5 CD’s, insurance card, manual, repair reports, nothing, nothing, and more nothing. It was possible that my passport existed somewhere in this vast nothingness of things, but I didn’t have more time to look.
It Sunday. My flight was Wednesday. It was time for plan B.