My Convertible Life

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ode to the Expired Passport

Last week my husband and I pulled out our passports -- I'm embarrassed to report that both had expired in 2003. It's one of those things we kept meaning to do -- then new job, new house, new baby, another job, another house, another baby, more jobs, yet another house, and here we are seven years later without having needed a passport.

Just hours after I'd been inspecting my passport photo (hello, 1993 -- how's that curling iron working for you?), I read this post by fellow Triangle blogger Fadra. And given that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (right?), I decided to write my own version.

So, of course, we must start with the photo page. When I showed a friend this picture, she guessed that 6 out 10 current friends would not have recognized this as me. I'm going to take that as a compliment about how current and hip and trendy I look now. And yes, in fact, I did think I had beautiful Brook Shields eyebrows back then, thankyouverymuch.

Sadly, it turns out that my passport never got stamped in many of the countries I visited -- no markings from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland or one of the trips I made to France. But there are three stamps that hold the greatest significance for me.

First, the stamp shown here at the bottom is the reason I got my passport in 1993 -- summer study abroad in London with a class from UNC.

That trip was probably the boldest decision I made in college -- spending the summer overseas without any friends or family. Thankfully, I made a great friend on that trip who joined me on Eurail after our course was over -- and who is still one of my dearest friends today. Anyone who can survive that kind of travel with me -- and deal with my homesickness -- is a friend forever.

The next stamp, six years later, landed me in the same airport, but with a special pass that allowed me to stay for a full year.

I left Hurricane Floyd behind at the Greensboro airport, but I was my own personal disaster for the next few weeks while I tried to get my feet on the ground. For one year, I studied magazine journalism at Cardiff University -- and traveling around Europe whenever I had the chance -- while I proved to myself that I could not only survive, but even thrive away from the comforts and familiar faces of home.

And finally, for the last stamp in this passport, I wasn't traveling alone -- but the trip turned out to be the most memorable in many ways.

This little stamp from Charles de Gaulle airport marks the day before my husband pulled a sparkling diamond ring from his pocket as he knelt in front of me on the Pont Neuf in Paris. It's the only overseas trip we've taken together -- so far.

Here's hoping that over the next 10 years our new passports will be filled with matching stamps as happy reminders of shared experiences.

3 comments:

  1. When I went to Europe, they also had open borders. No more crossing guards and stamps. We actually stopped at the border of France to try to find someone to stamp my passport. No such luck but we did go there! And I love your engagement story :)

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  2. Those all sound like very important ones... especially the last! I traveled through Italy, France and stayed in Spain 2 months back in 1998. I don't remember getting many stamps either as we crossed each country by train. Don't they know we're sentimental people?!

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