Sunday, September 04, 2005

Once again I forget my passport

We're hurtling towards Albuquerque
after five days in a tent. All of our
clothes smell of smoke. The rivers,
which had been dry and full of small
bushes, were swollen now with rain.
It was five in the morning, we had
to get the rented car back to its
stall and then an 8 am flight to
Chicago. We were thirty miles outside
of Santa Fe, halfway to Albuquerque,
following the silver shining rectangle
of an 18 wheeler's backside, when the shape
of my passport appeared inside my
forehead. Passport. Where was it.
We had the tent drying in the back
seat (hail the day before through
the partly open windows). I thought
about my leather St. John's satchel,
the black knapsack, my clothes suitcase.
I couldnt imagine the passport in
any of those compartments. The last
time I saw it, she said, was in
the hotel safe.
Five days ago, that was. And she
was right.
We pull over to a Giant gas station.
And rifle through the bags. Do you
have a number for the El Rey.
I run to a payphone. It's five-thirty
in the morning. A man answers. If we
have it, he says, it'll be in the
safe box, and I dont have access to
I tell him about our flight and he
says hold on.
I wait three minutes.
Mr Winter we have your articles
here at the front desk.
And so we return to the highway
and I jam the gas to 95 miles
an hour into the dark north
towards the shining basket of
gold that is Santa Fe. Directions
to Cerillos St. And we pick up
the manila envelope that contains
the passport. Light now. I keep
driving back to Albuquerque, hitting
a 107 miles an hour. Until a police
cruiser joins us from an on-ramp.
And we settle back down to 75.
At the rental agency, we leave
wet clothes, old magazines, a cedar
shingle from the roof of a barn near Georgia
O'Keefe's old house (I found it in
the grass while Charlotte Rampling
and a friend stopped and asked us to
take their picture). The rental guy
drives us to the airport. He is a
solid guy to accept the car in that
state. Does it matter? We miss our
flight. We end up eating and reading
all day in Albuquerque airport, which
has no mailboxes, and then Chicago's
airport, which does.


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