When we finally got into the customs booth, the agent, an older Chinese woman, looked as if it was just way too early: She even blinked in slow motion as she rifled the pages of our passports listlessly, and was flummoxed again and again by her recalcitrant stamp machine. It seemed to need to be "set" somehow, a step she couldn't seem to bother remembering. She was so over it. She brightened up a bit when her eyes fell on my daughter's name, which I've been told means "Moon and Stars" in Mandarin, and she smiled fleetingly as she asked my daughter how she pronounces it. By then my girl was doing her darndest to keep a straight face. We were punchy from the long night of travel and everything was absurdly funny. I saw my child trying so hard not to laugh at the wayward stamp machine and the woman's utter indifference to it, and I nearly lost my own composure. As soon as we were safely out of earshot, we collapsed into giggles like silly schoolgirls. My son was much too tired to pay us any mind. Instead he headed for our bags, which were already off the carousel and stacked in the distance.
Photo taken August 16, 2014 at Sovereign Plaza, Kingston, Jamaica. Ages from left are 10, 22, 13, 20 and 24.