You’re kidding, right?

Friday was a tough day. On top of worrying about the whereabouts of my passport, I have both of my parents calling in a flurry to ‘check in’. The calls have no concrete purpose aside from hoping desperately that I have decided to abandon my trip to Central Asia. Keep in mind that I am 38 years old and have backpacked on trips since 1996, usually alone, spending time in ‘random’ countries such as Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Armenia, and the Republic of Georgia. Why this trip seems different to them is beyond me. Believe me, the treatment is not new apart from my dad getting involved, but they should remember that none of the previous pleadings had any effect. Once the ticket is purchased, it’s official. I’m going. End of story.

Well… this time HAS been a bit different in that the Central Asian countries are particularly fickle when it comes to processing visas. Yes, more so than Syria, which had been branded as a member of the Axis of Evil months before I went. I had no problems receiving my visa in a timely fashion, nor did I have a problem when I showed up at a border needing a third entry. Good people, those Syrians. Seriously. That was 2002, however. God knows I wouldn’t go there now, if I could.

Come yesterday afternoon, usps.com still shows that my mail has not been scanned. So, after a couple of attempts, I am able to reach the same gentleman that I spoke with the day before. No. They don’t have my envelope. He assures me that it was put in the mailbox on Thursday and that the mail is picked up in the evening. Doubt sweeps over me. Did I remember to place the stamp on the envelope? Is it going to be sent back to the embassy? I conjure backup plans should this slow motion debacle become inevitable. A couple of deep breaths and I decide a better use of energy would be to get answers from the USPS. The most calming information was learning that even if the postage is left off, it would be scanned and tracked. After all of this triangulation, I decided that my passport was NOT picked up Thursday night and would be that night. All I had to do was wait anxiously and hope that there would be a scan of my passport before I went to bed. At about 10PM, it was finally in the system. I could sleep well, at last!

From what I could tell from the tracking information this morning, I HAD placed postage on it and it was coming to Dallas! I ran an errand early and made sure that I was around for the delivery. At about 10:30, I get a call from my mail carrier. “Hi! Is this Mark M…?” Yes, I reply. “Uh, we got an express mail here for you, but it shows that you put in for a change of address. Are you still there?” I remind him that the change of address begins Tuesday April 16th. “Close enough for government work, right?” I didn’t laugh. I made it clear that I WAS home and waiting for the delivery. He said he would deliver it soon, and he did. Hallelujah! I have never been so happy to get it back! The trip IS happening and a huge weight is off my shoulders. I haven’t felt this good in days. Even so, it’s scary to think that had that mail carrier not called, it would be on the way to my parents’. Whew! I pledge to never cut it this close again!

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