it was with bittersweet resignation that i passed in my battered old passport at the u.s. consulate last week for renewal. on the one hand, i was more than a little sick of looking at the horrendous results of my decision in 1998 -- deep into my college hippie phase -- to not bother showering before having a photograph taken that i would be looking at frequently over the next ten years. yet what ten years those were. that passport was with me for most of the defining moments of my twenties; it helped me define myself.
i remember taking that grungy photo in hanover, before tami and i went backpacking around europe after junior year of college. the first stamp was at gatwick airport and there are a good collection of european stamps from back when they did that kind of thing. it came with me on my globetrotting early retirement year of 2001-2002 where it was filled up with page-filling asian visas and stamps i accrued walking through rainy border towns in central america. it was in costa rica that i maxed it out, and proudly marched down to a consulate for some extra pages.
the latest group of stamps has been mostly banal: from airports in the u.s. and madrid. combined with a noticable lack of working visa, these present a tell-tale history of my illegal status in spain. luckily these clues are hidden like needles in the haystack of my colorful and exotically-stamped passport so nobody seems to notice.
all i have left from the little book is a set of photographs i took of its pages, which became the banner for my webzine nothing to declare. and now i sit and wait for the new one to arrive: blank pages, ten more years, a challenge to fill up those pages.
well, i have a few stamps coming up for it. i've been on a flight-buying and trip-planning rampage. portugal in a few weeks for easter. back to the alps two weeks after that. morocco with michael at the end of april. barcelona with sky in may. and all while sporting a shiny new blue book with a vastly-improved photograph inside.