I have been having a hard time describing my first trip abroad. The following essay is an attempt to convey what it meant to me. I know this piece is far from perfect, but it captures how I felt and continue to feel about my experience. A little bit of background is needed. Prior to the seven years this essay focuses on, I did not have a passport. This short work will be followed up by a longer piece describing where my passport took me.
For seven years, my passport sat waiting for me. First, in a drawer on Long Island and then in the City. The drawer kept it safe. It had nowhere to go because I had nowhere to go.
The few times I looked at it, it seemed powerful. It possessed potential. I found myself feeling sophisticated just holding it. This blue booklet gave me access to the world. A world I was not yet ready to see.
For years, I lacked interest in travel. More than that, I was timid about travel, but also intimidated by it. I was afraid of leaving my comfort zone.
It took me a long time to feel ready to leave the boundaries of not just my country, but more importantly my own. My passport had waited patiently for this moment.
First, the passport was called upon when booking flights. Out of the drawer it came for its number. A personal passport preview. Then, as soon as I arrived at the airport, my passport made its debut with the TSA agent. The blue booklet from the drawer had been used at last.
My passport went from having a hypothetical power to a real one. Holding it in the airport, and later in train stations, represented waiting to get to this moment – to both leave and arrive. The arrival brought with it several stamps, but most importantly, the first one in Heathrow.
I was probably the only person that day appreciating the stamp given to me in a passport that unbeknownst to anyone around me, had sat in a drawer waiting to be used for seven years. The wait was certainly worth it.