I Am Not My Passport
“Should such an ignorant people lead the world? How did it come to this in the first place? Eighty two percent of us don’t even have a passport. Just a handful can speak a language other than English (and we don’t even speak that very well.)’ Michael Moore
I have the passport of an international drug smuggler. It has visas from Myanmar, Brazil, Argentina, Cambodia and Viet Nam and stamps from Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and Colombia. There are stamps in it from six of the seven continents on this passport. My passport says to passport control, airport ticket counters and security, “Yes I know to take my shoes off. I know the weight my suitcase should be regardless of whether it is or not. Of course I have global entry.” Now that security screening is more efficient, I am no longer being racially profiled for having a Middle Eastern sounding name when pronounced wrong. This passport says that I am a World Traveler.
Every ten years there is a new passport and a ten-year older photo. My passport is full a lot earlier this time because of all these visas. I went to get more pages and was told that as of January first you can no longer do that and you have to get a new passport. If you travel a lot you have to ask for extra pages when you apply. I’m devastated. I can get through another trip as long as I don’t have a visa. I’m going to plan to travel to a few countries where I don’t need one. It’s only five years and I’m just not ready.
Our possessions do make up our identity and express who we are to the world to some extent. Or maybe we acquire certain things to project the kind of identity we want to have.
When I lived in New York City, you were judged by the neighborhood you lived in. No one ever had to see your apartment. You were from the East Side, an Upper Westsider or a Downtown girl. Brooklyn was not cool then and if you lived anywhere but Manhattan you were Bridge and Tunnel people.
In LA, it was all about what car you drove. I proudly had a new Jeep Cherokee. I felt so Californian. One day I drove my husband’s new Jaguar. It was a different world. It was like I had suddenly become a blonde. The valet parking guy at the restaurant ran to open my door. The parents at the mommy and me class engaged me in conversation. I hadn’t noticed that I was the only one not driving a foreign car.
I hate to see this passport go. It has stamps from some of my favorite countries. I take it out and look at it because I can’t believe that I really went to all these places. The first entry was a visa for Myanmar. That was cool. It has a new South Africa stamp from my daughter’s wedding, I made them do it very dark. This is the passport that I learned to travel alone with. I’m not ready for airport and hotel staff to think that I have not been anywhere.
The next one will start with Australia (because I need a visa) and New Zealand. This one will get just as crowded. I’m ordering the supersize.