Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Unforgettable Trip

A year ago my husband Kevin and I celebrated our tenth anniversary by taking a trip to London and Paris! It was so exciting. We booked the trip right before Christmas and had between then and Spring Break to get ready for it. This involved getting our passports (They wouldn't let me use the one I got in tenth grade.), arranging for someone to take care of our three children for more than a week, finding someone to house-and-dog-sit, etc., etc.

Everything fell into place beautifully. The grandparents happily agreed to keep the kids for us; our friend Josh said he would watch the house and Uncle Rico (our dog) for us; and our passports came in plenty of time. We also did our research by asking all of our friends who had ever lived in or visited London or Paris to give us their lists of the "must-sees" in these places. Priorities were important, since time was of the essence--We would only have three days in each city.

We planned our course carefully and packed our bags lightly (in my opinion). We took all the necessary precautions, right down to making out our will (Gulp). We borrowed travel guides and money/ID holders to wear; we contacted our friends in London and knew exactly what to do once we landed; we arranged for our friends in Atlanta to take us to and from the airport and also keep our car for us while we were gone; and we made sure we knew what we could and could not pack in our carry-ons. We were taking care of every little detail in order to ensure an unforgettable trip.

So early that Sunday morning, we rose from our beds in Jackson and began our adventure. We made the six-hour drive to Atlanta, only stopping in Birmingham to eat lunch and use the copier at a Staples store to make copies of our passports. (I told you we were taking all precautions!) We arrived in Atlanta right on schedule and even had time to hang around with our friends Daniel and Angela before time to head to the airport.

Still right on schedule--and oh, so proud of ourselves--Angela dropped us off at the curb in front of the Atlanta airport. As we were getting out, we made sure we had all our bags, and I asked Kevin to get out the passports. To which he said, "I don't have them. You do." So I started digging around in my purse . . . then in my bags . . . then in Kevin's bags . . . then in the car . . . Eventually I was on my knees on the sidewalk--hopelessly, fruitlessly looking through all of our luggage for those passports. I had the black-and-white photocopies, mind you. But where were the actual passports??

Where were they? They were face-down . . . on the copy machine . . . at Staples . . . in Birmingham . . . two hours away.

Our hearts sunk to the bottoms of our feet. I have truly never experienced a feeling quite like it. We went from bubbly excitement to extreme despair in fifteen seconds flat. Without much hope of success, we decided to go inside anyway and talk to someone from the airline to see if there was anything at all we could do about our situation. After all, we DID have photocopies! Good grief.

After getting the answers we expected, we went ahead and rebooked our flight for the next day. Now out one-third of our time in London--and a hefty chunk of change for having to rebook--we dragged ourselves back out to the curb and got back into the car. What can you do? All we could do was laugh, sort-of, to keep from bursting into tears of disappointment.

The redemptive factor in it all? Well, it really was not the fault of just one of us, which was a huge blessing, really. Could you imagine starting out a big anniversary trip angry at your spouse for costing you a bunch of money and a day? No, we had both gone into Staples, both stood at the copier, and both walked away from the copier without those little blue books in our hands. So we were both to blame. But we didn't blame anyone.

Instead we enjoyed some extra time with our wonderful friends and got to eat some of our favorite food at Chipotle! We tried not to think about the "what ifs" and just concentrated on the time that was still ahead of us. We also called the manager at Staples to make sure our passports were still, in fact, on the copier. They were.

Early the next morning, we got back in our car, drove the two hours back to Birmingham, went into Staples, walked right back out (little blue books in hand this time), got back in our car, drove the two hours back to Atlanta, went back to the airport, and this time GOT ON THE PLANE!

At this point, there was no looking back. We had a very nice flight to London. Once we got there, we saw as many of the sights as we could, bowed and curtseyed in the general direction of the Queen, paid our respects to some royal dead guys, ate some fish and chips, rode the Tube ("Mind the gap!"), pointed to Big Ben, bought some souvenirs for the kids, slept a little, and moved along to Paris.

We enjoyed Paris more than London, actually. There seemed to be more color there, and the people didn't seem as rushed and stern. We ate some wonderful food, saw some beautiful art, did a lot of walking, and wished we spoke French. It was a great place, and we would love to visit there again some day.

All in all, our tenth anniversary trip was absolutely wonderful! When we got home, we couldn't wait to share our pictures and stories, save one. We just couldn't bring ourselves to confess our foul-up to anyone--especially our families, who probably would never let us live it down. But it's been a year now, and since the memory isn't quite as painful as it once was, we decided to tell the story. (I just might not allow any comments on this post.)


jcbullock said...

All I will say is "Oh my!" I didn't think I knew about this, but you verified that in your last statement. At least you knew where they were and could get them so you could still make the trip the next day.

Julie Nolte Owen said...

I love this story-- and that you didn't blame anyone. It was just an accident, for heaven's sake. I want to hear more about your trip! When do I get to take my 10th anniversary trip to London and Paris? (Ahem, I think it is now going on 13 years. . . )

laurie said...

SERIOUSLY?!?! That's hilarious (and disappointing). Given mine and Baine's "You can't get on the plane to Brazil for your honeymoon" experience, I know EXACTLY how you felt!!!

Carrie Bevell Partridge said...

Yes, we definitely thought about you and Baine, Laurie. And, yes, SERIOUSLY!

Jen said...

I love how the time was redeemed anyway...

On our trip to Scotland last summer one of our group left her passport on the printer/copier at her house...I sooo recognize that description of going from total excitement to total despair in no time flat! Fortunately, she called her husband who brought the passport, and just as we were boarding the plane she came rocketing through the terminal to get on with us. Whew!

Carrie Bevell Partridge said...

Yes, Jennifer--very much the same thing! I'm glad she was able to make the same plane!

mwright said...

that is one of the most horrible, humorous, heart wrenching stories i think i've ever heard! unfortunately, if i ever own a passport and actually get the opportunity to leave the country on a fun excursion, i'm afraid the exact same thing might happen to me. i'm so glad you had a happy ending though. i'm going on 13 years now, also...still waiting!

Carrie Bevell Partridge said...

It definitely could have NOT had a happy ending (like if someone had snatched our passports off the copier or if we didn't get to go on our trip at all!). Hold out hope for the fun excursion, Missy. We found a REALLY good deal on our trip, so it's definitely do-able!