I received my new American passport yesterday. But despite this being my third passport, it will also mark several passport firsts in my life. But then, each of my passports has marked important “firsts” in my life!
My first passport was my first. It was my first federal identification form*. And it marked my first time travelling overseas. And it marked an important milestone in my first degree: A year’s study abroad. It was also the passport I had when I received my bachelor’s degree.
My second passport was my first one in my married name; my first as a married woman. It also holds my first long-term visas as it was the passport I had for the duration of my second degree and the beginning of my terminal degree, both in Scotland.
And my third passport, well it’s filled with firsts already – and I’ve had it for less than 24 hours!
It is the first passport I’ve had as a widow. Same married name as the last one, but I’m no longer a married woman. It’s also the first passport I got as an expat. (And the process of getting a passport renewal in Scotland is so much faster. Just eight days. Wow!)
This is my first passport with extra pages, 52 instead of the standard 24. As I’ll be travelling more over the next few years (hopefully!) I thought it was a good idea, especially as my last passport was running out of space with its 24 pages.
This is the first passport that I will have to carry in conjunction with my last one. That’s because my last passport holds my current UK visa and it would cost a great deal of money and time to transfer it to my new passport, two things I don’t have enough of at the moment.
And in following the tradition of first passport, first degree; second passport, second degree, I will be receiving my third (and most likely final) degree during the validity of my third passport. (And likely before the passport is a year old, too!)
But as I flick through my previous two passports, I realise that my new one holds a very sad first, too. Because each of them carries happy memories of my travels with Paul and my new one never will. My new passport will never carry a stamp from a trip we’ve enjoyed together because our days of travelling the world by each other’s side are over. (Yes, yes. He will always be in my heart. But that’s not the same thing.)
That realisation hurts my heart more than I would have thought. Especially as I normally flick through my passport in the airport, recalling happy memories from the stamps inside. But, as I have to carry my old one until my visa expires (and I get a new visa in the new passport) at least I will have a little longer to look at those happy stamps whilst waiting for my flight.
Of course, this new passport will have some happy memories of its own. In less than a month, I’ll be travelling to Croatia to deliver a paper at a conference. And in October I’ll be travelling to Denmark for another conference. (And maybe I’ll travel home to America for a visit over the Christmas holidays. I don’t know yet. Don’t start making plans for my arrival just yet!)
And one day, maybe there will be a new love in my life to travel with; to collect passport stamps with.
* Note: Both my Mum and Dad have pointed out that my first federal ID was my military dependent ID card that I had from the time I was a child until I was 21 (and therefore no longer a dependent). And that deserves a great big Semper Fi to my United States Marine Corps parents for their service, and for keeping me straight!