greenbottletree











{09/05/2012}   Passports

I found my previous passport, it’s full of stamps and memories of a more exciting ten years than those visible up to year eight of my current passport. I think this sums up how I think of my 20s: travel and adventure.
I love the idea of a passport as a travel record. It pains me that you no longer get stamps for EU countries, then my current passport would seem far more exciting and I wouldn’t feel so rug bound and lacking excitement. When an Australian friend and I drove around parts of Poland, Germany, France and Czech Republic, she got stamps galore, I just had a memory of the excitement of border crossings. I know it’s a bit silly to want a mere stamp in a little book, but I have never stopped finding border crossings thrilling. Merely crossing from one country to another (and, no, airports don’t count and neither does the “You are leaving the UK – Bienvenue en France” type signs around the Eurotunnel entrance) is something momentous, an occasion of the utmost excitement … to be marked by a stamp of confirmation. Such stamps also allow you to say really tossy things to friends while you’re standing in airport queues, such as, *flicking through your stamp-ridden passport*, “Gosh, I don’t know if there are any free spaces for a stamp … oh, look at that *stop flicking*, I forget [yeah, right] how bizarre the stamp for North Korea is”. Most annoying.
By virtue of being eligible to have a passport and it being straightforward to get one, I feel I have a duty to use it. It’s a bit like voting in that, as a woman, generations before me risked their lives to allow the likes of me a right to vote. So I vote and appreciate the fact it’s easy for me to vote and that women fought extremely hard to make that the case.
On the rare occasions when I am not in possession of my passport (usually for passport renewal or visa application), I feel a great sense of loss and I am conscious that a freedom has been taken away from me. I remember sending my passport away a few years ago and actually holding on to the envelope for as long as possible before finally dropping it into the letter box. I then felt panicky and reassured myself that if in the next few hours I felt a need for my passport to be returned, I could meet the postman when he emptied the letter box. Really quite pathetic, I know. Then about two days later I had to turn down work in Paris (it would have been a horrid job that I probably wouldn’t even have done, but that so wasn’t the point).
My passport expires in about two years. Writing this has made me think that I could combine the end of my 30s with the filling of my passport and the broadening of my geography knowledge; it appears to be all about the collection of stamps but really it’s more about having adventures and convincing myself I am as exciting as I rose-tint myself as having been during my previous decade! Then my 40s can be spent fretting about my carbon footprint!

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