Here is an interesting answer to a familiar essay topic: “What did you do during your summer vacation”.
This summer I had the opportunity to face my fears, and conquer them nevertheless. I was presented with a situation where I would be granted a passport renewal from the Venezuelan Embassy out in Washington D.C.
As an undocumented person, this passport renewal meant a lot of things for me:
- A valid form of ID.
- A way to prove my age.
- Less questions and stares regarding my “expired” driver’s license.
But above all, it meant that I would have to either drive, take a bus, or fly out to D.C. in order to make the renewal possible.
Knowing that my appointment wouldn’t be there forever, and taking a page out of the practices employed by my fellow undocu-peers, I decided to book my flight to D.C.
In doing this, I knew that the risk and the payout were both great - but I slowly told myself that I could not keep living with the fear of not being able to travel.
I didn’t drive distance because of my expired license. I didn’t buy a bus ticket anywhere because of my expired license. I didn’t dare book a flight because of my expired license.
But on the morning of July 2, 20102 - I was determined to put an end to it all the fear an uncertainty. I, Juan Escalante, would board a plane set out to Washington D.C. and would no longer hide in my home state of Florida, behind useless excuses as to why I could not attend conferences, events, or invitations in other states.
And so, I did.
I arrived at the airport on time, check-in with my airline, and blindly handed my Driver’s License that had expired back in 2009 to the TSA agent. It didn’t take but 10 seconds for the man behind the counter to look at me, look at the piece of plastic I had handed him, and back at me.
“Enjoy the fireworks!” the man said, taking notice that I would be in Washington D.C. during the Fourth of July festivities.
“Thanks” I replied, and ran to my gate.
The deed was done. No hassle. No issues. No problems. Just me, my backpack, and my boarding pass.
To my surprise, the TSA agent didn’t ask a single question to me. Maybe he didn’t notice the expiration date, or the bold red letters that spelled out TEMPORARY on the corner of my Driver’s License. Maybe it was too early to notice anything wrong, but at last I finally knew that flying was not out of reach to me.
“So many years, so many experiences - wasted” I thought to myself. Now, I know better.
Juan’s Imaginary Bucket List
FLYING WHILE UNDOCUMENTED - CHECKED.
And that is how I conquered my fear of flying while undocumented.