When I started my new job back in January, part of the first day paperwork was to confirm my citizenship by showing my passport to HR. The first thing the lady said to me was, “I’m jealous, I wish my passport was as beat up and filled stamps as yours.”
I hadn’t thought much about it before, but I realized at that moment that I had done my fair bit of traveling around the world. Obviously not as much as I would have liked, but I think more than most other Americans at least.
As the HR lady handed me back my passport book, I flipped through quickly to see all the stamps that I had collected over the years; multiple in and out stamps to Taiwan, Paris, London, Japan, and a few others that had been washed out from that time I had to walk a few miles in the rain to get to my hostel. The memories from those journey’s flashed through my head and I was happy that I had this passport to remind me.
Preparing for this upcoming trip, I had to renew my old passport first in order to get a 6 month visa into India. This meant filling out new forms, taking new pictures, paying a bunch of money for an expedited application, and sadly, returning my old passport to the State Department.
I had bittersweet feelings about relinquishing my passport and the memories associated with it. Bitter that I’d have to lose the one souvenir that tied together all my travels for the last 10 years, but sweet in that it meant I would be entitled to another decade of wandering the Earth.
Two weeks after mailing in all my paperwork, I received a large shiny priority mail envelope which I immediately opened to find a brand spanking new US Passport, futuristic microchip and all. I flipped through to find a more mature looking me on the second page, as well as 27 crisp new pages for visas and endorsements. I was happy to be making progress in preparing for this trip. I didn’t think twice about my old passport as I’d long since accepted its loss.
What a pleasant surprise it was this afternoon to find a plain brown envelope from the Department of State containing my old passport, hole-punched, yet still intact with all my old stamps in it. Who knows if it’s their policy to return old passports, but I’m thankful to have it back either way.
T -29 Days Until India