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If I return to the house, a simple car accident would ruin my timeline. The possibility of missing my flight kept coming at me like a meteor shower! Still, I was determined to take on the challenge to help make our daughter’s experience more empowering. The Taurean in me would not hold back; I asked my husband, Ken, to hear me out. He was not in agreement with my suggestion and made some excellent points as to who would take my two carry-on bags since I was determined not to lug them around the airport and through security again. I asked someone at the concierge desk to hold the bags if I didn’t return in time. The person was familiar with me as we often have dialogue when I travel through this terminal, which is frequent. The bags were already screened by security, so the risk was low for her.


With the bags taken care of, I decided to go home and get my daughter’s credit card. It was game on! There’s one thing you need to know about me, and it’s the fact that I work very well under pressure! As a two-time commander in the world’s greatest Army, I’ve had my share of obstacles that I didn’t flinch at resolving. Let the challenge begin! I was using my soldier brain, but most importantly, my mom’s brain. I was not going to fail! I checked my phone, and it was 7:43 a.m., one hour and 17 minutes from boarding time.

In my Terminator voice, I confidently told Ken and Victoria, “I’ll be back.” Although I said it confidently, I felt a knot in my stomach, and that’s when I thought out loud, “Max, you are pushing it!” It’s the same feeling I get when tasked to go on stage in front of millions to sing a song with a band I never rehearsed with.  I hastened downstairs, glimpsed the giant pink flamingo structure, and thought, “Wish me luck, Phoebe!” If you are familiar with the Tampa Airport, you know what I’m referring to. I hurried to the Uber pick-up point and ordered a ride via the application. The first available was Uber X service, so that’s what I ordered. The timeline was two minutes until pickup. I was optimistic because the driver, Raul, was right on time. I saw his car in the distance and walked towards the spot for pickup. He said my name, I acknowledged him, and I hopped into his car. I said I needed to return to the airport in 45 minutes, and he responded, “Hablas Español?” I laughed and said, “Today I will!” If it meant him getting me home and back to the airport in one piece, I would speak Spanish. Let the dialogue begin! We discovered we were neighbors at one point as our birthplaces shared space in the Caribbean. He was from Cuba and called me “Mi Vecina,” my neighbor.

Thank goodness the roads were not busy, but instead of taking the highway directly to the exit to my house, he took Kennedy Road, and I said to myself no, not Kennedy! Haha! I calmed myself down by reminding my brain to trust this guy and let him do his job. After all, he drives for a living and should know the best route at this hour. We made it to my house in 17 minutes without speeding. The distance to the airport is another perk of living at this location; we are close to everything that matters to us. I took a deep breath and exhaled with a celebratory smile as half the journey was complete. I instructed Raul to park in the driveway and I’ll be back in a few. I entered my house and who was at the top of the staircase spinning with excitement? Lexi! If you don’t know who Lexi is, she is my beautiful French bulldog that I originally didn’t want. We’ll talk about that at another time, but it always warms my heart when I open that door because of the way she greets me.

I hurried up the stairs as fast as I could holding on to the railing while doing my best to be as safe as possible. She greeted me playfully and as passionately as she did when I returned from a long trip. She was probably expecting me not to come back so early because I had suitcases when I left earlier this morning. She knows that suitcases mean a long separation. In this instance, she saw me come back soon so she was super excited. Ushi, our cow cat joined in on the greeting and I told them both that mommy can’t stay. I invited them to follow me as I headed to Victoria’s room to find the wallet and obtain the credit card. Welp, where is the Disney bag? I called her via FaceTime and she instructed me to the wallet. I found it and we both rejoiced! Whoo whoo! Task number two was done! Now let’s get back to the airport! Will I get back in time?

I hurried downstairs gave the pets all my love and dashed back to see Raul ready to head back to the airport. We had 28 minutes left before it was time to head to the gate for boarding. It took us 14 minutes to get to the airport. There were no lines, I scanned my boarding pass, hopped on the train, and listened once again to the Mayor’s voice message. “Hi, this is Mayor Jane Castor, I wish you safe travels and hope that your journey brings you back to the Tampa Bay Region.” I chuckled and thought thank you, ma’am, I hope I get upstairs to the lounge on time.

I texted the family group chat to report that I’d be at TSA in less than 2 minutes as they were sitting in the Delta lounge right above security and could watch my every move when I arrived. The train stopped and there they were smiling and waving at me. I felt like a hero! I did it! I got my baby her card so she could have fun with her friend Ruby. I swiftly got through security with the same TSA representative who smiled at me, and looked a little puzzled as he saw me earlier, which he did so I said I made it back with a smile. I hustled to the lounge, and my family welcomed me with hugs and kisses and showered me with praise. Ken told Victoria that her mom works best under duress and will not be stopped when she’s determined to win. Whew, that was close! I had 4 minutes before we needed to head to the gate. I grabbed a cup of coffee and some fruits and departed the lounge, but not before thanking the concierge for offering to help me with my bags if I didn’t return on time. My family was happy, I was happy. Japan here we come!

This story will continue in posts titled “Journey To Japan.”

Please follow and encourage Victoria on her social media pages at @victoriareyesart. Subscribe to our channel for videos on our journey like travel trips including Japan. We will begin posting when we return from our trip. Thank you.