I can feel my body making the shift to the 50s. No matter how I try, I can't run as fast as I could in my 40s, and to tell you the truth, I don't really care to. Everything's shifting: breasts and knees and attitude.

I marvel at my own sense of calm now. Events that used to leave me reeling, with my head in a bag of chips, no longer even faze me.

As I write this, I'm sitting on the tarmac in South Africa, unable to get off the plane because in my rush to get here and check on the progress of the school I'm building and choose the girls who will attend, I forgot my passport. I'm waiting for the deputy minister of immigration to call the airport and let me in the country. He's at a funeral, I'm told. Might as well get comfortable. African funerals are full of ritual and very lengthy.

So what I know for sure: Never leave for a foreign country without your passport, especially in these terrorist times. I'm normally obsessive about this, checking my bag over and over to be sure it's in there. I even bought a pink passport holder so I could spot it easily. Unfortunately, I was halfway across the Atlantic when I realized there was nothing pink in my purse. So I calmly wait, daydreaming about the girls I will meet whose lives will be forever changed because they got an education.

My 52-year-old body doesn't handle jet lag the way it used to, so after traveling for 18 hours, I feel a tad screwy. What I really want to do is put a blanket on the floor and take a little nap. Years ago I would have had to find something—a chocolate bar, some pretzels, a piece of cake—to ease my anxiety. Now I calmly wait—five hours and counting. I don't even beat myself up about it, because there's nothing I can do but know for sure that I will never forget my passport again.

P.S. After I wrote this, I waited another hour—six total—before a representative from the American embassy rescued me with a temporary passport. The funeral was still going on.


Next Story