Essays and Short Stories

How I Got Into Mexico

How I Got Into Mexico

A Recollection Written in 2012

The nuptials of Katie Hirneisen and Travis Perry were apparently a success. On Saturday, June 16th, Laura and I were going to Cancun to join them, as well as some of Laura’s other dearest friends, for something of a group honeymoon. Being that I had never been to an inclusive resort before, I was mega-pumped. Laura and I were looking forward to a trip that finally compensated for our rather difficult honeymoon in Madrid in 2010. Uncontrollable forces made that less than awesome.

We learned the game’s the same, it just got more fierce. The Mexico Trip. Here is the epic struggle that arose, and the soul shattering-triumph that resulted.

June 14th

7:00am: Laura and I awaken leisurely, talking about our upcoming trip. I decide to start a small checklist on my phone for important items, because I love making lists. 

8:00am: As always, Laura has most everything taken care of, therefore this list is rather small. I tap out one final item: passport. We go to where our passports have always been kept, only to discover that mine is missing.

It hasn’t been used since November of 2011 for employment verification. I start to tear the entire apartment apart. All the while, Laura calls every number she can find about emergency replacement of passports. She finds out that there are Passport Agencies which can theoretically print you a same day passport if you have an appointment. According to the automated system, there are no appointments available in Chicago.

However, it is possible one might open up. Unlikely as it is, there are sometimes cancellations. If I have my social security card, I will be able to get a new one. No, I lost my social security card many years ago and somehow managed to get by without it. If I bring my birth certificate in, that will suffice. No, my birth certificate is in South Carolina, with my mother. Laura suggests that Mom can overnight mail it, and I inform her that Mom is still in Wisconsin. Laura asks if I still have my expired passport. No, I seemed to have lost that in the move.

“You threw away your expired passport?” Laura shouts with very just cause. 

8:45am: Laura and I are beaten. There is no way we can get an appointment, and even if we did I do not have the material to replace my passport in time. 

We sit stunned in the living room for a bit, and then Laura asks, “What the fuck is wrong with you, you don’t have a birth certificate, a social security card or an expired passport?!”

“My passport served all those purposes,” I meekly reply.

More silence. My mind races, trying to conjure a silver lining. “You’ll still have a good time,” I say. No. The idea of going alone to Mexico in a couples getaway without me is revolting. Besides, we won’t be able to get our money back.

“Well, maybe we can,” I said. “Maybe the extenuating circumstances will…”

“Don’t you know anything?! You need a doctor’s note or something, they don’t give you refunds for being an idiot!” Laura is being remarkably kind, under the circumstances.

9:15am: Laura has to go to work, and I keep searching. I am very angry. Uncharacteristically, I punch a wall.  

9:20am: Laura calls to apologize for her utterly justified admonishments, and she also says she will keep calling the Chicago Passport Agency all day in hopes that something will miraculously open up. She suggests I call my Mom and see if there is anyone who can get into her home to obtain and mail the birth certificate. I figure it’s a long shot, but I’ll try calling anyway.

9:30am: Mom is calm and patient in the face of my frantic storm, and she points something out: “You were born in Cook County. You can go down City Hall and get a copy of your birth certificate in person.”

9:33am: Hope returns to the playing field.

9:50am: I begin calling the Chicago Passport Agency in hopes that an appointment will open up. The robotic reservation system is enraging, forcing you to listen to the same slow, careful explanations over and over again. Through this repetition, I learn that there are Passport Agencies in the East, West, South and Central United States. On a whim, I see what other Midwest spots there are, hoping that maybe Milwaukee or Madison has one. There is one in Detroit, but the earliest appointment they have is June 18th. I go back through the menu to the only other option: Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are appointments open all day today and tomorrow.

I will need to drive from Chicago to Minneapolis and back again in a single day, a total distance of about 830 miles. 

I call Laura and ask if this plan is too crazy. She says it’s not crazy enough. I decide to go for it.

10:30am: I email work and ask if I can, without any prior notice, take a half day and a whole day off right before my two week vacation. Being supernaturally kind, my boss says “okay.” I figure out what I need to get for my passport.

11:43am: I take the train to Millenium Station and I book it to City Hall. 

11:56am: My birth certificate now obtained, I go get my passport picture taken. 

12:28pm: I sit down with a foot long BMT from Subway.

1:00pm: I finally make it to work, a good three hours late. Thankfully, no major projects are going on, so I’m able to rip into some general maintaience stuff.

6:30pm: I leave work and get on a train back to Hyde Park.

7:00pm: After exiting the train, I drive the car to the gas station for fuel and five hour energy drinks.

7:15pm: I arrive home, ready to get my papers in order, eat some dinner and be in bed in two hours. I discover my printer is out of paper, so I head to CVS.

7:45pm: Papers are printed and filled out, packet is prepared. CDs begin to be burned. Laura makes outstanding mac and cheese, and we watch the finale of Sherlock.

I pound two Sierra Nevadas in hopes they will assist in making me drowsy. They do so, and

9:40pm: thankfully, I fall asleep.

June 15th:

1:00am: My body wakes up naturally, even though the alarm is set for 1:30. I shower, drink four shots of espresso and prepare four more for the road.

2:00am: I am driving out of Hyde Park, headed to Minneapolis, armed with a tremendous amount of toll change and freshly burned music.

5:00am: This is where I stop for Wisconsin gas:

8:30am: I arrive in Minneapolis, and I park in one of downtown’s many parking facilties. Most are connected with skyways, so come winter people don’t need to walk out in the snow to get from work to their cars. 

9:15am: The nicest government people I have ever encountered get me set with my passport. It will be printed at 2pm. I go to get an oil change and kill a day in Minneapolis. The city’s layout reminds me a great deal of Austin, with crisper edges, and the styles and sensibilities are like Portland, Oregon. The Gay and Lesbian scene is quite predominant, and sex shops sit right next to more old fashioned businesses.

2:15pm: With my new passport in hand, I’m back on the road to Chicago. While on the road, my little brother calls to tell me a good friend of ours has just died in a motorcycle accident. We talk for a long time as I zoom across the midwest. 

9:30pm: I arrive back in Hyde Park, only to find much of Woodlawn has been cut off. Apparently, Obama is his home tonight. An SUV blantantly and lazily blows a red light while making a left turn, and he shrugs carelessly at my honking.

9:45pm: I’m home. Laura has not only done all the packing, she has cleaned a bit and cooked me dinner. At 3:30am tomorrow, we need to be in a taxi headed to O’Hare. Laura demands I sleep, I refuse. There is too much to do.

11:15pm: Laura goes to sleep, and I proceed to clean up everything that she didn’t get a chance to get. All the while, I feel my brain disintiegrating. For a little bit, I am convinced that I have lost my sense of taste.

June 16th

2:00am: I shower and feel like a new person.

3:30am: The cab takes us to the airport, and we’re checking in by 4:15. By 6, we are in the air.

I have gotten three hours of sleep in the last forty-eight hours, I drove eight hundred miles and I’m flying internationally.

4:00pm: We arrive in Cancun.

Christopher Tucker