Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Passport

My new USA passport arrived in the mail last week. Prior to its arrival, I had a moment of panic because it had been over a month since I sent my old passport in with the request for a renewal. The panic set in when I checked my "status" on-line and discovered that there was no official status to be found. Did I not put proper postage on the darn thing? Will it even come before I change my address at the end of the month? And what if it doesn't come? Because I was heading out of town for the weekend, I decided to give myself the weekend to marinate on what to do next. I figured I would eventually contact a friend at the State Department to see what's what. Fortunately, it arrived by mail the next day. Problem solved. No favor to call in. Crisis over.

My new passport is crisp, clean and extremely stiff. And I love it. The edges are not battered by 10 years of wear and tear. The red and blue of the waving American flag makes me feel especially tingly. There are no sweat stains from traveling through sketchy parts of the Global South with it firmly placed in my bra for safe keeping. The threading is not coming undone, and there are no malicious markings made by a female IDF soldier who once threatened to deport me for the fact that I left Israel at one exit and entered through another. My new passport is a fresh, open book with a dark haired young woman smiling back from Page 1. She's fresh-faced and ready for what lies ahead. Fortunately, the picture ended up being a good one--my international travel representative looks young, smiling and genuinely happy. Of course, my hair is everywhere and half of the picture is taken up by my teeth alone, but this is nothing new...

The other night at dinner, I reported my momentary passport crisis to a friend of mine who responded by asking what I did with my old passport? When I told her that I sent it to the State Department in exchange for a new one, she asked why I didn't just lie and say that I lost it so that I could keep the old one for posterity. I simply shrugged and told her that I didn't need the old passport any more, and that I was ready for a fresh start. She gasped:

"But what about having it to show your grandchildren all of the stamps from your life of travel?"

I shrugged and told her that I just didn't consider it a big deal. After all, I have plenty of pictures and letters, writings and so forth. I also don't travel just to have a stamp to show off to others. The destinations themselves have never mattered as much to me as the journey within them, and, most especially, within me. Are my grandchildren really going to care? And are they really going to want to see the picture of me as a 19 year old, half stoned college kid who didn't think to wash her face for the first passport photo? Personally, I hope to leave a better legacy. (And I always hated that picture.)

I unapologetically replied by telling her that I'm not much of a "keeper of things", even passports. I tire far too easily when it comes to hauling around baggage. And yes, I am an addict of newness--fresh pages, fresh travels, new beginnings and fresh starts...

But here's to the next ten years of country stamps and travel visas, and maybe a little bit of posterity--

Namaste

6 comments:

I-66 said...

I know I need to get mine renewed soon... I think it expires next year. It would especially be good considering I am thinking about going to South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup.

You should acquire your I-66 stamp sometime soon :)

Laura said...

Ah, but you can keep your old passport! At least we always returned them at the embassy. Just punched some holes in it and handed it back -- people were always so happy about that. I keep asking people if I get to keep my dip one because I treasure the memories. But nothing wrong with a fresh start, either. :)

Jessica said...

Weird. Canada lets you keep your old one and mails it back to you along with your new one. Yet another reason why I plan to remain a dual citizen for life...

VJ said...

I'm with the others here. I think you may eventually get the old one back, but 'canceled' for your records. Hence you'll still have that stoned 19 yo to look back upon. But good lick and remember, keeping the New one in your bra will expose you to the RFID 'broadcasts'. Only intermittently, anytime it's 'interrogated'. Really. Like @ IDF posts everywhere. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

VJ said...

Yes, that really should have been Good Luck up there. My hands are freezing... Cheers, 'VJ'

Anonymous said...

We handed in the old passport to the agent at the Post Office when we renewed it. We received the new one via Priority USPS delivery and the old one came back to us in the mail. Happen to look at all the country stamps, but if the clerk in those countries don't stamp them well, you can not make out what country the stamp is from.