I like my passport.
No, I love my passport.
I’m kind infatuated with my passport. When I see it, I get all giddy and excited and I just want to leave. Somewhere. It doesn’t matter where.
My passport has never let me down, it’s always by my side and it gives a stamp-by-stamp summary of the past few years of my life. It’s basically awesome.
If I don’t have it with me, I feel a slight panic until I realise I’m home and don’t need it with me.
It’s my perfect travel companion and going abroad without it would be impossible.
Recently my passport has changed and my feelings are mixed.
In January, I renewed my passport.
It’s a normal procedure that most people do every 10 years, but I felt like I was breaking up with my old passport and starting a new relationship with the new one.
I have to create new memories by using this passport so I can start to have a history with my new passport. I want to have the same feelings about this one as I did with my last one – my first. Ahhh… sigh. You never forget your first.
This passport is different. It has a microchip, a new photo and after drama with the US Passport Services (FYI, Americans: extra pages are free if you request them when you renew or apply, but if you want them after that, it’s $140 – don’t let them tell you otherwise!), I have my passport set and ready to go. It’s a new, stiff and empty. Of course, I’m happy to see it, but I’m still getting to know it. After my first passport, it has a lot to live up to.
My last passport was full of stamps from all over Europe.
I noticed silly things like all the empty pages since most countries decided to stamp on the same few crowded pages.
I have two identical entry stamps from Montenegro (I only entered once).
Albania stamped both my entry and exit stamps on the ‘Amendments and Endorsements’ pages.
The straightest stamp in the whole book is from Kosovo.
Ahhhh…. those were the days.
But this one is empty. Empty and printer-fresh.
It’s not old, rugged and colourful from stamps and visas.
I know the empty pages give me more space to travel (most countries require you have at least one full empty page to enter their country, whether they stamp it or not), but I miss my old stamps.
I like flipping through it and playing ‘find the stamp’.
I miss swapping it with other travellers while exchanging stories of the most unusual stamp we have.
Now, they just have to trust me when I say I’ve been to Kosovo, Egypt and Turkey. I don’t have the stamps to prove it.
Judging by my passport, I look like a first-time traveller. I am most certainly not.
The feel of my old passport, the airport baggage stickers on the back and the stamps… oh, the stamps. I miss the stamps.
I considered photocopying the pages of my old passport to hold on to the memories, but I had to remind myself that it would still be there for me when I return. It’s not going anywhere – it can’t travel without me.
I still love my new passport, but it’s a different kind of love now.
I’m not sure I can ever love it the same way as my first, but it will have to do.
I will just have to learn to love it. That’s the only choice I have.
So, Europe, here I come! With a new passport. Please help me learn to love it.