Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Rat in a Cage

It's just a matter of time before I gnaw off a limb.
Sorting through my stuff, I came across my passport.  Just touching it made me smile.  I thought about the places I’ve been:  Paris, Rome, Cardiff, St. John’s, and the places I could go: St. Petersburg, Barcelona, Marrakech.  Drunk with wanderlust, I opened my passport and was yanked into a vortex.  The universe, the borders, the walls closed in on me.

My passport had expired.

I couldn’t breathe.  My heart raced and I started to have a panic attack.  I was trapped, trapped in a 3.79 million square mile cage.


How could this have happened?  Why didn’t I know?  This is a catastrophe of epic proportions!

It’s not that my work requires me to travel or that I’m a jet setter, but having a valid passport is that last step to complete freedom.  The first step is learning to run, usually willy-nilly with parents chasing behind.  Next, there’s getting that first bike, where the neighborhood suddenly expands with speed and wind.   And then a driver’s license and an actual car with a full tank of gas.  Pedal to the metal and go!  A passport is the ultimate.  It’s access to the final frontier, across oceans and borders, wherever that may be.  There’s something thrilling about knowing that, given the opportunity, I could go pretty much anywhere in the world.    

But not now. 

Now, I’m stuck.  If Colin Firth showed up at my door and said, “Forget my gorgeous italiana wife, I want to run away with you, my chubby delusional hapa.  I know the perfect spot just north of Reykjavik (hey, it’s my fantasy) where we could raise beautiful Icelandic ponies together” or conversely, if my husband had a business trip and invited me along, I couldn’t go.  I’d be making a sad face through the window as I waved good-bye.

Of course, I’m getting my passport renewed.  It’s easier now with the forms online.  I’ll have to get a new official photo, which is always interesting.  I firmly believe that passport photographers consider moving to the DMV a promotion.  I don’t think I’ve seen any smiling passport pictures, which is strange.  Most people are happy when they travel.  Maybe not so much when they arrive after a long journey.  Nor when customs pulls you aside and a big burly bald guy pulls you into another room and asks you to sit down while he glowers and asks questions in what sounds like French, but not really.  Then you actually do look like the picture.  On the other hand, over ten years there’s been some fashion changes. Looking at the old picture, the hair’s not completely awful, but the lace vest is a little questionable.  And then there’s the wrinkles, grey, and pudge that I’ve acquired since then.

Free Flat Cranky!  Print, cut her out,
 and take her along on your travels! 
Meanwhile, I’ve come up with an idea that I saw in a children’s book, Flat Stanley.  I’ve created Flat Cranky.  I’ve included a copy for your own perusal.  Simply cut it out and take it with you on your trips and then, include it in your photographs of famous landmarks and send them back to me.  It’ll almost be like me actually being there, kind of like going to the Paris or the Venetian hotels in Vegas rather than the actual cities in Europe.  But for now, it’s all I’ve got.

Oh, and while you’re taking pictures of Flat Cranky, feel free to include Flat Colin Firth. That’d be o.k., especially if you’re somewhere north of Reykjavik with some Icelandic ponies.  Hey, Flat Cranky has dreams, too.

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The Cranky Cow by Kou K. Nelson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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