Ron, a fellow blogger (Retired in Delaware), is planning a trip to Canada this summer so he’s working through the bureaucracy of obtaining a passport. This put me in mind of my own.
I got my first passport in 1975. I needed one because I was going to Europe for an overseas study term during my freshman year in college.
I’m not sure whatever became of that passport. I remember what it looked like. They were slightly larger then and the cover was a grayish-green color. I can’t imagine I would have thrown it away but neither do I know it’s whereabouts. I never renewed it. Passports were valid for five years in those days and, by 1980, I was no longer a student and overseas travel would not be an option again for a long time.
By the 1990’s I was able to do some travelling again but Americans did not need passports to travel to Canada nor most of the Caribbean. Since those were my only ventures outside our borders, I had no need of a passport.
By 1997 I had met and become smitten with Harper’s Other Dad. He was attending a conference in Bermuda and so I tagged along. It seems strange that a passport was required to visit Bermuda. I’d been to the Bahamas without one previously. They have the same queen on their currency so the rules should be the same, right? Perhaps I didn’t actually need one. Maybe I just obtained one because carrying it made me feel like a jet-setter. The only people I knew who’d been to Bermuda were Mary Haines and her mother so I thought I was ‘all-that-and-a-bag-of-crisps’ for going there. By 1997 American passports were smaller and navy blue, as they are now. They were also valid for ten years instead of five.
By the time I needed to renew that passport the world had changed. In the 21st century, post-September 11th world, passports are needed to travel anywhere outside the country.
I obtained my current passport in October 2006. My old one did not expire until August 2007 and I can’t recall why I renewed it early. We went to Costa Rica in February of 2007. Perhaps it had something to do with that. I remember being happy I had gotten it done early because, with all the new travel requirements going into effect at the time, passport applications and renewals were taking months to process.
When I applied to renew by passport in 2006 I had to send an application, my old passport, and a new photo. I suspect there was probably a check involved too. I had the photo taken at a Sears store. I don’t know why I went to Sears but it wasn’t expensive, they did a fine job and I wasn’t really going for a glamour shot anyway.
When I received my new passport they also returned my old one with a two holes punched in the front cover and “Cancelled” stamped on the inside. It is in the safe deposit box at the bank. Why I save an expired, cancelled passport, let alone keep it under lock & key, is beyond me. I suspect the reasons harken back to some deep-seated psychological insecurities, probably arising from my toilet training. But it doesn’t take up much space in the box. Sometimes Socrates is wrong. Life is worth living just fine without being too fully examined.