Dunn Brothers

It was at this time last year that I was preparing to go to Haiti for my first time after the Earthquake. It had been a long hard year watching friends and relatives go while I had to stay back. Listening to their stories of helping, witnessing, rebuilding, sharing and loving on those I have come to love. In a sentence, it sucked. I mean don't get me wrong, I was happy for them, and it's not about me, but it kind of felt like it in a selfish sort of way. I really wanted to go, and having a newborn made that a little tricky. So now it was my turn. I was on my way.

I was flying standby the next morning, so the day was a day of preparation and hanging out with the kids before I left for five days. Nothing was packed yet, but I had the whole day and wasn't worried about it. Your needs are pretty small while in Haiti. Throw some skirts and T-shirts in a bag and call it good, is kind of the way I roll.

Well, I got a call saying that it would be better for me to fly out today, instead of tomorrow.

Oh...I can swing that, sure. No problem. (um...what am I thinking?)

I start making phone calls to connect with the husband. Discuss kids, meals, schedule. Got it. There will be no kiss goodbye or one last hug and be safe. This is was it. Our morning good bye was all she wrote.

Make a few phone calls to find someone to watch the kids till Paul got home. Got it.

Make a few phone calls to find a ride to the airport. Doesn't work.

Clean dishes. In my dreams.

Pick up house. Not on my life.

Grab my passport... Grab my passport.... Where is my passport? Wasn't it right here on my dresser?

I check my file folder. Not there.

I check our secret hiding spot. Not there.

I check my dresser. Not there.

I check my jewelry boxes....And then it hits me. My jewelery boxes were the only thing stolen when our home was broken into at Christmas. My jewelery boxes that housed my passport that I pulled out to travel with when Paul and I were scheduled to go to Haiti the previous month. I am two and half hours away from needing to drop my kids off at my friends house so I can travel to Haiti and I have now just discovered that I don't have a passport.

At this moment, it felt like everything in the universe was keeping me from going to Haiti. (I know its still all about me right?) My whole soul hurt. I felt defeated.

I immediately called my friend Lindsey and I'm pretty sure she thought someone had died when she picked up the phone and I was sobbing. Loudly, uncontrollably crying. I couldn't go. I wasn't going to make it again. And Linds does what she does best, she solves my problems. She discovered online that there are only a small handful of emergency passport issuing locations. Guess where there's one? Yea, that's right, Minneapolis. Downtown, five minutes from my house.

It's 1pm, and my kids are still in the pajamas, we haven't eaten lunch and I look at them and say, we have to leave...NOW. They put boots over their footy jammies, and throw on a coat and hat. It's January in MN, which means its -degree's outside at all times.

I throw some crackers and carrots in my purse and call it good. I load up the kids and we navigate our way to find the government building we are looking for.

We find it. I find street side parking. I have two quarters to pay for half an hour of parking. I drag my kids in their jammies without gloves and protective gear, and deciding to carry Little because the stroller would be too much work. What I forget is how much that girl can eat and what a tank she is. So we run to the building, we struggle with hats and coats and bags through the metal detector, and find the office.

I pick a number. I wait my turn. When my number is called, I have my paperwork filled out. I chat with the gentleman for a few minutes and it is then that he informs me that I need a photo.

OH CRAP I totally forgot about the photo!

He says I can get it taken at the downtown post office just two blocks away.

You have got to be kidding me. My kids are in sleeping gear, they haven't eaten and now I have to walk with them two blocks to get my photo taken to return to this building and wait for them to possibly issue me a new passport.

I grab the kids, we walk to the car to feed the meter. I have no more change. I drag them back inside, through the metal detectors with the coats and hats and bags. We get change. We put all said items back on. We go out side and feed the meter. Little has put on five pounds already since we started this little journey I can feel it.

We head in the direction of the post office. I can't see it, but the nice man in the government building swears its there. My kids are freezing and decide to take a stand against the mommy who did everything wrong that day. The mommy who desperately needs them to keep walking, but its windy and below freezing and they are cold and hungry. I give one glove to Big and he puts both hands in it. I give middle the other glove and he puts both hands in it. I wrap my scarf around middle to keep the wind off his face. He's my loudest screamer and complainer so I wanted to tame the beast. I give my hoodie under my coat to Big to make him feel warmer. I am now without any of these things, FREEZING my arse off, carrying my tank of a kid that is throwing my back into spasms. The kids look homeless, or like they have a mommy who doesn't have a clue, and to lift their spirits and keep the complaining at bay, I make them sing.

Yup, you heard me. I made them sing. So there we are, homeless and clueless and singing to brighten our day. I have said before that we resemble a circus and I meant it.

We made it. That two blocks felt like ten. It was more like four since I got took a wrong turn. Yes, I screwed up even two block directions, I get it, I'm not winning an award that day.

My time is quickly evaporating and the stress is becoming more real. I'm not sure I will get my passport in time to drop off my kids and make it to the airport.

When we reach the line, I notice a sign on the door that says, "photographer on break, be back in 15 min." My heart sank. I didn't have 15 min. This is also when my kids decide that they need to use the bathroom. Well, this should take 20 min. So hurry. We rush. We do it, and we are back in line. The lady showed up. I got my picture taken, and we bundled up again to make it our two blocks to see if, yes, maybe, mom can get her passport.

We are half walking, half running, I am half dragging my kids down the street. I am pretty sure I promised them all sorts of things, maybe even the moon if they could just keep up. We made it back. We go once more through the metal detectors, seriously those things are annoying, and we are in line. This is when the nice man behind the counter informs me there is a 30-60 min wait for the passport to be issued.

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME? Well, we'll do our best. We have eaten our crackers and now my kids have realized that in fact, that was the worst lunch ever, and not really a lunch if you ask them. I remember there was an old Dunn Brothers on the corner where we parked.

Yes, I did. I took them outside again, and went to the coffee shop and I got them a hot chocolate and treat for letting me abuse them for the last hour. We were sweating and freezing at the same time. They have boots on with footie jammies. Their hair is unbrushed and staticy. We are a sight for sore eyes. I'm on the phone with the airlines, Paul, the cab company and possible hotels for me to stay at that night. I looked at my kids and said, "This is a fun adventure right?" They all cheered.

After we enjoyed our treats, we went back to the government building, went through the metal detectors AGAIN, and my passport was ready. We grabbed it, we ran to the car, we made it home. I think I wished my kids clothes on, because somehow they had changed, and I carefully and slowly drove them to my friends house. (wink)

I made my flight. In some act of God and wonderful miracle, I went to Haiti that day. I can write about that trip another time.

What's funny about this story is we are staying at a hotel downtown this week while they redo our ceilings from the tornado. We drove up to the hotel and my kids exclaimed, "Mama! That is where we had our adventure!"

And they were right. We are on the same block as Dunn Brothers this week.

Funny thing is, we picked this hotel for its location and full kitchen. But it also has a pool. Apparently this pool is only open on the weekend. Go figure. So I guess I'll take our already planned swimming time and we can take a walk down to Dunn Brothers.

Maybe we won't look homeless this time. Maybe I have learned something in a year.

Maybe not.