To every stranger that steps in, especially in such unexpected ways …Thank you!

Max and I aren’t planning to go anywhere, exactly. It’s more that we’re planning to go everywhere. But now a days the criteria for doing so has changed. When I was a kid you could pack up your woodcarving tools, wheel them onto a 747, and whittle a spear mid-flight. But things are different now. The world is different now. To go anywhere, or everywhere, my 27 year-old son Max will need to prove his identity. And his recently expired passport will simply not do.

“I don’t know about the photo part of this,” I said to the woman behind the counter at the post office as I passed her Max’s passport application. Max’s expired passport lay open and I pointed to the old photo. “Last time that camera flash was really tough for him.” I tried to hold back my laughter as I looked at the photo of Max, his face grimacing and eyes squinting. It’s the kind of face that belongs to a guy with tattoo-covered muscles and an offender-tracking device around his ankle. But in truth, it’s the face of a sweet guy with autism who tried six times to keep his extra-sensitive eyes open for the flash and photo.

The woman walked us over to the familiar chair in the corner of our small-town post office. If you were ever sentenced to time out as a kid, you were sent to a spot just like this. Max sat dutifully for the photo. And then, as if signaled by a lunar satellite, Max knew to squeeze his eyes shut at the exact moment of the flash. The rule of a passport photo, however, states that one must show their eye color even if the rest of one’s face is completely contorted by the process and rendered unrecognizable. So we tried again. And again. I was fairly sure I was going to need blood pressure medication.

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