Saturday, June 20, 2015

I Need Another Beach Vacation [Part 2]

Jonathan started checking everybody in while I managed the kids and carry-ons. We were yelled at once again to move all of  our stuff to the side. It was then, while I was shifting kids, luggage, a carseat and stroller that Jonathan turned to me and said...

"I can't go."

"What do you mean you can't go?" I asked.

With a look of shock on his face he said, "I can't go. My passport's expired."

"No it's not. You checked it. It doesn't expire until October," my voice getting more and more shrill with every word.

"It expired in January. I read it wrong," he said with a blank expression.

I looked at his passport. The expiration date read 10 JAN 15. He had checked that date at least five times before we left, each time reading the first and last numbers as October 2015, and each time fighting a feeling that something wasn't quite right. I still don't know how he missed those crucial three letters in between 10 and 15. I mean, I know how he missed it, but I still can't believe he did. And there was nothing we could do. No charming our way out of this, pleading with security, or sneaking him onto the plane. We all waited in silence through the security line. I shed a few quiet tears. Jonathan walked us to the gate, hugged us goodbye, and as I walked down the tarmac, I turned too late to catch a glimpse of him before we boarded the plane. It was probably for the best, or I might not have gotten on the flight.


His empty seat was filled immediately, and poor August didn't realize that it wasn't his dad sitting next to him. He kept asking "What's Daddy watching?" on the TV embedded into the head rest of the seat in front of him. As soon as the wheels left the ground, I shed a few more silent tears. I didn't want to go on this vacation that we had looked forward to for so long. I just wanted to be together. When our wheels touched down in Houston, the man in Jonathan's seat leaned forward, and August finally realized that Daddy wasn't with us. He pointed rudely, and said really loudly, "Who's that?" Then he kept asking where Daddy went. We met up with the rest of the family, and boarded our next flight to the islands. None of us were particularly talkative.

Once we arrived in the Cayman Islands, we got settled in our condo, and Jonathan's dad started to work on figuring out a way to get Jonathan there. Since we left on a Saturday, there were no passport offices open until Monday. Jonathan had already booked a flight out of Houston to the Caymans so he could drive there on Monday, apply to get a passport in a day, and catch the flight on Tuesday only to fly back to the states on Wednesday with the rest of us. Not much of a vacation. It didn't really seem worth the hassle to get a half a day in paradise.

I tried to take Jonathan's advice and enjoy the vacation for the kids' sake. We made our way to the beach and just soaked up as much sun as we could, bathed in some of the saltiest water we've ever tasted, and searched for intricate seashells. I tried to take tons of pictures for Jonathan. I didn't want him to miss out on anything, especially since this was August's first visit to the beach. 
By that evening, Jonathan and his dad had concocted an insane plan. It seemed so far fetched, but if you knew the family I married into, it wouldn't surprise you in the least. Jonathan was going to fly to Miami on Sunday morning because not only did Miami have a passport office that can renew your passport in a day, it also had a flight to the Cayman islands Monday evening. Jonathan planned to spend the night in a hotel right across the street from the office, get up at 4:30 AM, go stand in the "non-appointment" line in a basement parking lot in hopes that he could get in and manage to convince someone to renew his passport that day. Almost impossible.

I woke up Sunday morning at 6 AM. So much for catching up on some rest. I talked to Jonathan before he flew out, and we spent the day on the beach, getting regular updates from Jonathan from time to time. We watched thunderstorms roll in and leave almost as fast. We built some pretty poor excuses for sand castles and added to our shell collection. I talked to Jonathan that night, before bed, nerves running high knowing he had to get up at a ridiculous hour, and that he's never been good at getting up early.

I awoke at 4:30 AM the next morning and couldn't go back to sleep. At this point, I'd pretty much given up on relaxing. I tried calling Jonathan to make sure he was awake, but he didn't pick up. I called again...and again...and texted. Nothing. I looked up the hotel number and called his room. When he didn't pick up, I calmed down a bit, knowing he hadn't slept in. Finally, at around 6 AM, I got a crackled phone call from Jonathan, who was in a basement with horrible phone reception. He had slept in, but not too late, and he was 2nd in line at the office. 

August woke at 6:30, having a croup attack, and he and I sat on the porch with a nebulizer, watching the cruise ships sail into port. The whole day, though we were surrounded by the calming effects of warm sunshine, and soothing sounds of water lapping at the shore, things felt tense. At 1:00, we heard from Jonathan. He had secured a passport. At 3:00, he had his passport in hand. At 7:30 PM he had boarded his flight, and at 10:00 PM he finally joined the family in the condo with an incredible story to tell. If you want an idea of his experience, read the yelp reviews for the Miami Passport Agency. It was no picnic, but he did it, and he was in the Cayman Islands with us for the rest of our trip. 

We tried to fit as much as we could in that last day and a half. Of course we enjoyed the beach, we went long boarding and kayaking, we went snorkeling and saw some of the most beautiful sea creatures right off the shore. We built sand castles, found seashells, played Frisbee, and soaked up the sun. It finally felt like a family vacation, if only for a short time. 

Now I'm ready for a vacation do-over, perhaps somewhere in the states, just in case.

nessa dee

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Self Portrait

This is what I look like at the moment. I have been flattened by a measly summer cold. Though I've been wearing my painting pants everyday this week in the hopes of getting some painting done, all I've been able to bring myself to do is sketch and stuff my face full of carbs. 
But, I'm on the mend, so maybe tomorrow when I put my painting pants on, I'll actually add new colors to them...maybe.

nessa dee

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Need Another Beach Vacation [Part 1 ]

I've heard many people say that they need a vacation after their vacation. In this case, I think, "I need a vacation do-over" would be more appropriate. Our last couple of vacations (skiing, Yellowstone) have been the adventure seeking, fun but exhausting type trips, and while I loved those trips, the idea of going on a vacation where we could just relax (as much as you can relax with three kids) seemed, well, like a vacation.


We had been prepping for this Cayman Islands vacation since Christmas, securing passports for the kids, buying beach-worthy attire, counting down the days with eager family members, and dreaming of lying on the beach, soaking up the sun. Then, the Tuesday before we were to fly out on Saturday, we received a phone call from my distraught mother. Her passport had expired.

"What??  How did this happen? You said you needed to check your passport months ago! How could you forget to check your passport?" I might have thought, or even said to my mom. The scrambled search for options began. Option 1: Drive to Houston the day before our flight, meet with the agency, explain her plight, and pray that they would approve the passport renewal that very day, then drive back to Austin that night to prep for a ridiculously early departure time. Option 2: Drive to downtown Austin that Tuesday, meet with a company who claims they can get you a new passport in a couple of days (though it's not guaranteed), pay a huge fee, and pray that the passport arrives in time. She chose option 2.

It was at this point that I thought to ask Jonathan if he had checked his own passport.  "Of course I did...I think. Wait. Did I? Did you check yours?"

I had just used my passport in January and knew it wouldn't expire for several more years. But just to make sure, I checked my passport, and he checked his. "We're good," he said. "Mine doesn't expire until October."  We breathed a huge sigh of relief, and then another one when my mom's newly renewed passport arrived Thursday. We were back on track...cue the sun-soaking dreams.

The night before our early bird flight, Jonathan and I made an appearance at a good friend's surprise karaoke birthday party. The appearance turned into several hours of epic singing because, really, who can leave after just one song? Besides, beachside naps would more than make up for hours of sleep lost in the service of serenading a friend. A mere three hours after we had shut our eyes, we awoke to the unforgiving sounds of our alarms. Groggy and bleary-eyed, we loaded the kids, the mom, our luggage, and ourselves slightly later than we had hoped, but we were on our way.


Upon arriving at the airport, we realized that our plan to leave early so as to beat the Saturday crowds was a plan favored by a million other people. The lines were ridiculous. While we still had an hour and a half before our departure, we were informed, many times by the yells issuing from the mouth of one airline employ that our luggage had to be checked 45 minutes before the flight or it would not make it to our destination. Panic started to set in the longer we waited in line. Finally, they divided the lines by flight times, and we were able to bypass a whole lot of people whose eyebrows seemed to knit together as we made our way to the front.

Jonathan started checking everybody in while I managed the kids and carry-ons. We were yelled at once again to move all of  our stuff to the side. It was then, while I was shifting kids, luggage, a carseat and stroller that Jonathan turned to me and said...

"I can't go."

[The rest of the beach story will come in another post, but I added pics from the vacation so that you won't go crossed eyed from the bombardment of words.


nessa dee