I can’t exactly remember when I first got my own passport. What I do remember is the touch, the smell and the excitement of getting my hands on one. It must have been the late 70s, when the UK still had those sturdy hard-backed blue passports with peepholes for your name and number. This all created an air of something rather mysterious and exciting, which sadly the EU passport struggled to replicate.
For some their passport is ‘brag’ document, shouting out: ‘Look at where I’ve been…… look at how exciting I am!’ I’ve never bought into this as I’ve seen how one can be extremely well-travelled but still be rather narrow and ill-informed. In contrast, I’ve always rather admired Gretchen Rubin, the much-read happiness guru, who proudly claims that she doesn’t like travel, rarely travels outside the US, and pretty much thinks that New York has all that she needs!
I’ve always found it curious that a document like a passport can have such weird levelling ability. Although there is undoubted joy spent thumbing through the pages of your passport, evoking memories of past travels, however, there’s also that photo (does anyone look good in one?) that’s frozen in time. Once you’ve sat in those rather uncomfortable passport booths perched on a metal stool with a life of its own, and waited for your photos to appear, rather like chocolate or crisps out of a vending machine, you are committed to staying with the photo for the next ten years. TEN YEARS!!!!!
When I last renewed my passport, the person helping me with my documents at my local Post Office, looked at my new photo and comparing it to the old one exclaimed: ‘Oh, I see these past 10 years haven’t been kind!’ After choosing to find this amusing, I tended to agree. Although I was keener to celebrate those lines as a markers of experience and of wisdom, ready to be imparted at will, the words of Oscar Wilde rang in my head: ‘With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.’
While passports for many are seen as a gateway to travel, adventure and new experiences, for others, more importantly, it is a document that embodies the relief felt after years of being stateless or in limbo. In other words, the security of remaining in a newly adopted country, after having fled your own.
Whether you have experienced either of these emotions as a result of the possession of your passport, there is also another form of passport that many do not know exists, and that is The Carer Passport. But that is a whole new blog in itself.
© stripedsisters 2021
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