Narceline drops me at Key West airport. Tahra and the kids gone already to New York. I'm as prepared as I can be. One suitcase and a backpack. Takes me approx five minutes to figure out how to swipe my passport through the automated check-in computer. Trying repeatedly to jam and slide it across the wrong crack in the machine. Pit and forehead sweat already. I am befuddled. Where's Tahra - she would know what to do here. Fleeting thoughts of abandoning trip - too hard, too hard.
At ticket counter with human, a minor victory: big bag weighs only 46 pounds. This means I can offload four pounds of granola and trail mix made for me by Tahra, from my backpack, and put it in the suitcase. Brief awkward scramble as I pull down heavy luggage, open and transfer the weighty goodies from my backpack into suitcase. Sunglasses clatter out of shirt pocket and slide across the floor as I bend over. All of my carefully selected possessions for the next eight months are suddenly exposed in the airport glare to ticket lady and passengers around me; underwear, socks, granola all together - SO WHAT? It's ok if food touches clean underwear. I force the fat ziplock bags into my hard shell and haul it back onto the scale: 49 lbs, there you go. Adrenalin pumping from passport swiping struggle and ugly repacking incident.
"Sir, where is your visa for Kenya."
"They told me I don't need a visa for Kenya, that I can get a transit visa at the airport in Nairobi."
"The people I will be working for in Sudan." I say with confidence, though I realize this is ridiculously meaningless. More pit sweat. Much more.
She looks dubious but folds my passport and sends me on.
I have entered the security line. There is a new problem. I am headed to one of the countries on the official U.S. List of Nations that Sponsor Terrorism, but I have neglected to sign my new passport. I have become a suspicious actor.