I cannot rest from travel…
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
from “Ulysses,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson
My passport is a permanent fixture in my life. I know many people don’t carry theirs around with them, but I happen to be one of those New York City non-drivers without a driver’s license (yep), and for quite some time I had even misplaced my permit, so I got into the habit of always carrying my passport on me at all times. The look on a bouncer’s face when I hand them my passport instead of a driver’s license is almost always priceless. In Nicaragua, I slept with it under my pillow, and when I travel, I carry it in my bra with my money and other important documents. Yeah, it gets sweaty, so if you ever meet me, you probably don’t want to touch my passport.
It is a reminder of all the places I have been in the past four years. Each page bears a very specific memory of a time and place and experience – at the border crossing – but also is a frame for all the things I encountered in between the time I received my entrance stamps and the time I am stamped back into the United States.
This page recalls the day I was almost drafted into the Israeli Army at the border between Israel and Jordan. Long story short, Israeli military participation is compulsory for all Israeli citizens over the age of eighteen (and I won’t go into my feelings about this here…not the time right now), and yours truly is an Israeli citizen, although I did not know it at the time. My family and I were crossing the border to visit Petra when I was whisked away by the border crossing officer and questioned about my family and my citizenship, and then placed on the phone with the military office, who informed me that I am an Israeli citizen and prior to my next visit to Israel, I will need to be granted exemption from military service and obtain an Israeli passport – and mostly I was upset that I might not get to see Petra. Thank goodness exemption was all I needed! Honestly I was seeing visions of army fatigues and being drafted on the spot. Which reminds me. I need to get my Israeli passport. Ha. And I got to Petra.
Keeping my passport around keeps me sane. It’s a reminder of the things I have seen, the knowledge I have gleaned during my travels, the people I have encountered, the way I have grown. It is a symbol of how my identity has been shaped.
Ah, my first visa. Even getting this visa was an adventure – my best friend and I didn’t realize we needed travel visas until about two days before we left for Thailand! Thankfully, the incredibly kind people at the Thai embassy expedited our process and did not charge us a penny.
Strange how an innocent leaf of paper in a passport holds so much significance. How can I even begin to detail the adventure between the two dates stamped in innocuous, unassuming blue ink?
I don’t know where my passport and I will go next, but we’re ready.
And for shits and giggles, my terrible passport photo:
Do you have a current, up-to-date passport? Where has yours taken you? If you don’t have one, and you’re an American citizen, click here to find out how to apply for yours, and click here to find out how to renew it if you’ve let it expire!
How’s everybody’s hump-day doing? Today is totally going to be a day of folding lots of laundry for me once I’m done with my reading. Blah blah blah. By the way, we ran out of all the good coffee in my house, I’m going crazy! Must..buy…more! Also kinda messed up on the whole eating-breakfast thing since I woke up later than I intended and rushed out of the house. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to do so – when I woke up I found a half-made peanut butter sandwich on the counter, meaning my roommate (who wakes up at the crack of dawn for her extreeeeme pharmacy student schedule!) was trying to make her lunch and ran out of time. We sync up like that creepily.
Can’t wait for Pilates tonight. And I should probably make myself some lunch…