Woman Enough

My Passport Arrives

Posted in Uncategorized by womanenough on December 18, 2009

My passport arrived in the mail yesterday and I was half-terrified to open it. On the application they asked for my address multiple times, and I had to fill in the letters and numbers that direct the world to a third story one-bedroom townhouse apartment in downtown Washington, DC. With each shaded box I was afraid someone would misstep and think I am from this place in which I’ve only rattled and banged for five years. I am not from here and it is not home, anymore than any of the places whose stamps will come to fill the pages of this new passport will be homes. Sites and experiences, but not where I’m from.

But no one made that mistake. Right there in bold ink, “Place of Origin” the reader asks; “MAINE, USA” answers the U.S. State Department, and it looks so right to me there, in a neat little line, eight easy letters that fill me with so much affection.

“You can go anywhere, anytime,” says my dear friend who has lived all over the world, when I tell her my passport has arrived. This thought is new to me, and I sense in her a spark of passion and excitement at the idea, but I feel nothing. I have no trepidation about leaving a comfortable life, nor xenophobia for foreign lands. It’s not even that the new navy booklet means anything other than freedom to us both.

But for me, the freedom lies in getting me out of here, sending me back from where I came, with the knowledge not to make the same mistakes again that take you so far from where you always wanted to be. This passport will allow me to travel freely north to Canada and small French Islands and the frozen tundra of Greenland, and it will get me back home again each time. It gets me passage on a boat that is not the job I was educated for but perhaps one I’ll like. It’s the end of doing what might be nice instead of what feels right, it’s a playful admittance of defeat served in relief and with just the slightest sting of regret.

Who could have known that the things that take us away are the same things that deliver us home, wiser and bruised, disappointed and delighted?