“You might not be going to Morocco today.” Says the Delta airlines employee.
I stood at the Delta check-in counter encompassing the sinking feeling throughout my body and I tightly clutched my over-packed luggage fit for a family-of-five with sweaty palms and a racing heart.
It was the day before I left my home of 23 years in Fort Wayne, Indiana to head to Morocco for what I was planning to potentially be for the rest of my life.
I went online to check into my flight through Delta airlines and I saw an automated message that informed me that I would need to check-in at the airport, not online, and to arrive two hours early.
What reason could there be for this? I already paid for my departure ticket, but I didn’t buy a ticket to return home. Why? Well, I wasn’t planning a specific date to return home.
Could this be a problem? Surely there would have been a message by now if it were this. I bought this ticket a month in advance. I’ll be fine. My aunt and my mother accompanied me at waking up at 5am to travel from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis. The drive is about 3 hours and the excitement and adrenaline coursing through us all made the trip go by so quickly. The car was full of giggles, music, snacks, reminiscing, and questions about what was to come of my new life in Morocco.
We arrived to the airport and made our way to the Delta desk. I attempt to check-in at the kiosk and a Delta representative approaches me. I explain to her the message I received and she takes my passport to attempt doing what I had already done multiple times. She gets the same result. “When is your return flight from Morocco?” asks the woman.
“I didn’t make a return flight reservation because I don’t know the exact date I will be returning.” I replied.
She takes my passport and walks up towards the Delta counter muttering under her breath that I might not be leaving for Morocco this day. I make eye contact with my family and we all share the same confused look. The woman explains to us, while staring at her computer, that it is required to have a return ticket if you do not have a visa. US citizens can only be within the country as tourists for 90 days.
The tourism rules were clear to me, but the lack of communication of the requirement of a return ticket prior to this day was mindboggling. Why didn’t their website stop me from advancing in making my one-way ticket purchase if I didn’t have to input any further visa details?
“So, what’s our option? Can we buy a return ticket now?” I asked.
“I will see what I can find.” She replied with a disheartening tone of voice.
We found a date to return in July and the price was not cheap. My aunt helped me cover the cost of the ticket. I couldn’t have been more grateful for my mom and my aunt being with me through this. The woman handed me my ticket and I was on my way to wait for my plane. My mom and aunt sat with me in the food court until it was time to go.
We had five hours to wait because we made it through traffic between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis more quickly than expected. We also wanted to make it to the airport with time to spare in case there were a lot of hoops to jump through.
We ate breakfast and lunch in the airport while sharing any and all passing thoughts, as we knew we wouldn’t be seeing each other again for a long time.
The hour came and it was time for me to head through security and be on my way to New York, my first stop of 3.
I looked at my mom across from me and my eyes welled with tears. We laughed together with quivering chins as her face turned red and eyes filled with tears, too. I looked away and laughed even more in an attempt to stop any water from leaking out of my eyes (also known as crying). I took a deep breath, stood up, and distracted myself for as long as I could with gathering all of my bags.
I hugged my aunt and told her I loved her and thanked her for all she had done for me. I hugged my mom and held back the overflow of emotions as much as I could. I told her I loved her and that I would miss her (I was sure right about this as I feel it now as I’m typing).
We all made one last look at each other before I walked down the hallway to security. Before I started crying more I turned around with my back to them and didn’t look back.