A little over a month ago Nick and I headed to Paris to celebrate my 40th birthday. We’d been contemplating this trip since the day I turned 39, researching restaurants, hotels, neighborhoods, gardens, cafes, food shops and more throughout the year. The weeks before the trip were filled with writing lists, organizing kids’ schedules, stocking the house with food and creating any possible order for our home to run as smoothly as possible for my sweet mother who looked after the Brown kids for six days.


As I finished packing the night before we were to depart, I ran through my head the most important items on my packing list. Phone charger, check. Journal, check. Camera, check. Fabulous new boots, check. Passport, check…Passport up to date…pause…deep breaths continue while Nick heads downstairs to triple check. Pause. No breath. No, passport is not up to date. Reality hits hard. I am not going to Paris tomorrow afternoon, triple check. Oh wow.


8 am came fast. With a few hours of sleep, blood shot eyes from crying, and a smidgin of hope inside of me, I headed for downtown Minneapolis to the original Government Center (potentially shutting down at any moment it being October 1st, government shutdown day) to sweetly ask, but with gentle persistence, how one might receive a new passport asap. After two hours of tracking down a passport photo, filling the meter, inhaling coffee, and watching the Government begin to shut down on CNN, I met my new friend, Maria. As I wrote out a check for my not-so-attractive passport picture (seriously, no complaints), trying to hold back my tears of joy and exhaustion, I asked Maria how I might thank her for expediting my passport. After she refused any gift cards she simply replied “Just send me a postcard from Paris.” This was only the  best possible thing I could have heard at the moment, besides “Yes, you will be receiving a new passport today.” Pure joy. I gave thanks to Maria and raced to jump on a plane as fast as possible.


Four days later, as I sat at in Parisian cafe beginning to write my postcard to Maria, surrounded by French conversations, fountains and champagne, I thought this has got to be the best postcard I have ever written. And it was. It was a memorable trip from start to finish. But writing that postcard topped it all.


The surprises continued on the flight home when we received a bottle of wine from a flight attendant with a note attached, on stationery with a photo of the Eiffel Tower. What? In this day and age. Lovely surprise. We gave thanks.

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There is hope out there people. And surprises in your day, just when you think you’ve hit a wall. We have yet to receive any of the letters we sent to our children from Paris but, hopefully, one day Maria will receive her postcard, and will smile hearing my gratitude.

10 thoughts on “ Maria

  1. Alecia Stevens

    Wouldn’t have missed this post for anything! Made my day!
    Merci beaucoup, Maria, Nick and Wendy!
    And, yes…Paris was certainly worth all that trouble!


  2. kristin robinson

    love. love. love. have thought of this frequently since I saw it on Instagram during your trip, as I was waiting for any post of my favorite city! there IS goodness all around….just not always where we can clearly see it ;). xo k.


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