I had been planning a trip to Latvia this summer as a celebration. I mentioned it to dad awhile ago, and he said he might be interested. In fact, when I asked him what he would do if he did win one of those stupid sweepstakes he has been entering, and he said, “Travel to Latvia.” For him, Latvia is beyond reach. It is so strange how limited his scope is. I tried to explain this issue of privilege to someone… about access. My dad has never understood how things work, so everything is just slightly out of reach.
But not this time. Hopefully, if all goes well, Susan, Glen, dad and I will all be traveling to Latvia this July. So I had the adventure of taking dad to the passport office not once, but twice.
Here is where I have to ask the question… is it me? Is it because I’m missing some basic function of humanity that everything I do gets mixed up and kind of broken? Or is it just the system. The process for getting my passport was to go online, fill out a form and mail it in with a picture and money. However, I had to mail it in twice because they didn’t like the first photo I put on the application. Too ugly, I guess. I tried the same process with dad’s application, but I got the message telling me I had to go to the Official Passport Office of Omaha (glorified post office) on 136th and Q.
I finally figured out it’s because his old passport has been expired for more than 10 years. Okay, no big deal. So I go online to find out about the passport place, and you have to make an appointment. So I made and appointment, and I swear it was for yesterday, but when we got there, they told me it was actually for today. You know how that goes?
But the nice lady there took dad’s photo. It took four tries to get him with his eyes open and no glare from his glasses, but we did it. Then we made sure we were on the list for Tuesday. Before we left, the nice woman told us that we had to have a photocopy of his driver’s license and a photocopy of the old passport. Great! Thanks.
So I made a photocopy of the old passport and the driver’s license. Then we made our way back to the office today. Luckily, I put his old passport in my pocket, just in case. As we were driving, dad pointed out that he had seen some of these buildings before. He thought we had been on this rode a week ago or so. “Just yesterday, dad,” I said.
Then, when we got to the building he said, “Ja, I have been here three or four times.”
“Just twice dad. Yesterday and today.”
“Was it only twice?”
After getting inside and waiting for 20 minutes, we got up to the counter, and the lady so wanted to tell us that she couldn’t do it… “Do you have his passport? We need more than a photocopy.”
“Ha!” I shouted as I triumphantly whipped out his old passport from my back pocket, slid it across the desk and shouted (a bit too loudly), “I knew it!”
No one was amused, but the wonderful woman behind the desk warmed up when I told her about Vitauts and his desire to return to his homeland. She was a bit confused because my dad’s mother’s name is Anna and his father’s name is Janis. She read that as “Janice” and thought he had two mothers. Oh, Americans!
After that, things went well, and we put in all the paperwork, but she warned us that because dad didn’t remember where his mother and father were born, they might not take it. What the H? It was in Latvia a hundred years ago. Were there even places back then?! I’m just crossing my fingers, and hoping that this application goes through. I’m not sure I can do it a third time.
Dad had a wonderful moment when he said, “I want to see my old farm again. I’m sure there is nothing left, but I would just like to see.”