Okay, bear with me. This is an ode to one of my oldest and dearest companions, my (now expired) passport. I’m a different person for owning this document. And that’s the truth.
It’s time to renew and it’s making me sentimental. This baby was issued in 2002 when I was 20 years old. True to character, it arrived two days before I was set to leave for Sweden for one month. Or maybe it was just two weeks that time? Point being, it arrived with much stress and last minute-ness. Reminds me a bit of right now. A decade later and I’m filling out the renewal forms at a pace which is stressing Aki out quite seriously. So I’m getting on it. For real.
Flipping through these pages brings back a flood of memories.
I remember my first Christmas in Sweden with all of the candles and cozy warmth. I remember getting “stranded” in Copenhagen for two days. I remember my first European road trip through Spain, France and Italy. I remember wanting to scream from pain because I just had to wear heels all day in Milan. I remember thinking I was going to die in the mountains of Andorra, stranded without gas. I remember an over-night boat ride from Stockholm to Tallin, Estonia. I remember my first time riding a tour bus alone through Madrid and feeling truly alive with the energy of the city. I remember what torture it is to go hiking or sightseeing after dancing until 7 in the morning. (Oh Spanish nights). I remember quitting a traveling nanny job in Finland without any idea how I was going to retrieve my luggage still back in Madrid. (Long story). I remember the incredible food and charm of Portugal, and especially the late midnight dinners with a woman from Paraguay who only spoke Spanish and a 70 year old cook from Portugal who only spoke French and Portuguese. I remember how proud I was to make my first flight and train connections on my own. (If you know how directionally challenged I am, you’d be proud too). I remember falling in love with Barcelona. I remember how loud and big I felt in Tokyo and how fresh all of the food was. I remember the breath-taking fjords and crazily expensive beers on honeymoon in Norway. And I remember my first time in Croatia, meeting all of my husband’s family and friends.
I remember immense joy and also deep disappointment & fear of the unknown when plans didn’t go as hoped. I remember feeling that the world is so small, and also so wonderfully vast.
Although I have traveled far less than many, I’m pretty sure I’ve bought more ONE-way tickets than most. “Away” was my main pursuit and fixation in my younger 20s. I needed to be “away” and “away” taught me so much, brought dear people into my life, and helped me to grow and overcome so much that kept me down.
It’s funny, but there’s something to this blogging journey that reminds me of traveling. That may sound odd, but for me one of the best parts about traveling is that I open all of my senses. I notice everything around me. There is no auto-pilot, I have to think through the simplest exchanges. I notice all of the people, the space I take up and how I am perceived. I am more open to trying new things and meeting new people. Everything is a little bit more thrilling and a little bit more uncomfortable. I find so many parallels. And I feel at home and alive in that space.
It’s going to feel funny to hand over a completely blank book next trip. I’ve gotten quite attached to my stamps and I’m proud that my old passport is ending its career entirely filled (except for the back of one page).
OH, and speaking of stamps — DUDES in passport control…I know you don’t care, but puh-lease can you try to ink up your stamps before I come. Ghost stamps are sad. And pretty please, just for me, find a nice blank spot to mark. Enough with the lazy stamping on stamps on stamps on stamps. For everyone in smaller countries, maybe crossing borders ain’t no thang…but the U.S. is huuuuge. Man, we can drive for four days straight and still be in the same country, ordering the same fast food, drinking the same coffee, and speaking the same ol’ language. Border crossing is kinda thrilling for us and we pay good money to go get that stamp. I mean, we go for more than that, but you know… Oh my, okay I feel much lighter.
I’m hoping my next passport strays away from Europe a little more often. It’s hard because we want to visit family in Croatia (and now Austria), plus travel is trickier with a toddler in tow. Buuuut 30 year old Henna is itching to see more of South America and Asia. To begin with…
So dear old passport, thanks for everything. I’ll keep telling our stories. But now, it’s time to make some new memories! CAN’T WAIT!
oh & Woot Woot, it’s the WEEKEND!
NOTE TO SELF: send in passport forms.