I’ve been trying to find the saying, does anyone know it? It is about some sort of omen that happens either during pregnancy or at the birth of a child. When this omen appears it means that the child will have a wandering spirit, will be a rolling stone, will have a love of travel. Whatever that omen is I am sure that it was present for me. I am a seed in the wind. I love to travel.
I do not remember when I got my first passport. My last passport, the one before the one I have now, became so tired from use that I had to get it replaced early. The edges of the passport frayed. The cover was peeling apart. Whenever I got to customs or border control I had to charm the agent into scanning my book as many times as it took for it to scan.
The most times with 10 times in Johannesburg. Thankfully there was no line. I got a person who is having a conversation with a colleague across the room. He could not get it to scan. I was cheering him on coaxing and trying to charm him through it. The colleague was providing commentary about my passport. She was heckling him in a familiar teasing kind of way. I said “you just gotta finesse it. It responds to just the right kind of touch.”
And she said “Oh you can’t get that from a man. They don’t understand finesse. Everything is all”--she made a motion with her hands. I laughed.
“You’re right, maybe you should try instead.” She agreed to try. I silently prayed it would work. It did. On the first attempt. Femme finesse for the win.
I kept using that passport until one day in Turkey where they point-blank said “we will not allow you back in this country with this passport. “Thankfully, it was only a 24 hour layover that I’ve taken in exchange for a cheap flight on Turkish air. Turkish Air is great (except for the 24 hour layovers which are part of a government industry in initiative to increase revenue from tourism). Turkish Air has freshly made hummus and freshly squeezed lemonade on their flights. They provide lots of amenities that make a difference when you were on a plane for 10+ hours. The Turkey layover was just before a flight back to DC. This is one of the only places in the country where you can get a US passport in 24 hours or less. It costs more money — passports are already expensive. It can only be done under extenuating circumstances. My circumstances qualified. I made an appointment.
For the first few days of that trip I was actually staying with a friend in Baltimore. While I was on my way to my passport appointment, perhaps on the MARC commuter train somewhere between Baltimore and DC, I lost my old tattered passport. Now instead of getting a new passport I was replacing a lost one. The process was different. I rode my bicycle over to the CVS near George Washington University to get photos taken. I arrived just in time for my appointment. Walked in. Stood in line. Filled out papers. Waited some more. Did an interview. I was cleared to get a new passport.
There was only one problem. The passport that I had lost was from before my adoption and legal name change. In order to change my name and replace a lost passport I would have to bring in a witness. Someone who had known me for at least three years. Someone who could come down to downtown DC in the middle of the workday with less than 24 hours notice. I knew lots of people who could come but none who could do it in the middle of the week in the middle of a workday with such short notice. For a moment I was defeated. I was sure that I would miss my flight back to Spain which was in only a few days. At this point, I didn’t even have the old tattered passport – I’d lost it. After I spent a beat feeling sorry for myself I decided to throw a Hail Mary. I called my momma, who lives in New England. I asked her to come. She has been wanting me to officially change my name on my passport and Social Security card for years. I had waited because I was being cheap. My legal adoption and name change happened less than two years after I renewed my passport which, barring circumstances like the ones that I found myself in, was good for 10 years.
My mom agreed to my ridiculous request to fly down and serve as a witness for me. In part because of the significance of the name change. In part because it was an opportunity to see me and I have been overseas for a little bit with limited Wi-Fi and phone service. Impart because Southwest has very affordable direct flights between Baltimore and New England.
Mama made it for the interview. They verified my identity. I I got a new passport. I found my old tattered passport at the place where I was saying. Now I have an active passport with my entire legal name. It scans on the first try and its pages have yet to be overcrowded buy stamps.
Covid has curved my international travel plans. Honestly, I still feel very anxious about air travel. I do not see international travel in my near future – maybe the Caribbean or Mexico. I have never been to Mexico. At present I am only taking short, direct flights of two hours or less because that’s how long I can peacefully coexist with my anxiety.
I’m asking you to support my joy by buying me plane tickets, sending me money to do so, or giving me your miles.. I promise that this wandering spirit will put them to good use.
*For my birthday this year I’m asking you to celebrate with me by supporting my joy, my work and my communities. Each day I’ll be sharing one simple thing that you can do to support me in each of these areas. Visit my blog at the link in my bio to read past posts.