I need to renew my passport, so I am, because I believe in traveling.
I filled out the form and went to get my picture taken at an official place (an urban Walgreens which, upon cross-examination, didn’t carry the hair products I was looking for…mostly the aisle was full of products for thicker, textured hairs of other ethnicities.) I stood in front of the screen the employee pulled down, smiled faintly for the camera.
There was a very kind and helpful older gentleman helping me out, his skin dark, a few of his teeth missing from his bright smile, a few holes poked in his official (worn) uniform.
Upon checking out, when my photos were ready, I asked him if he would like to see my old photo, and I held it up and he nodded and said, “Mm hmmm, it looks like you’ve aged pretty well,” and then I laughed and said, “Why, thank you.”
Maybe I’m not so good at measuring time. Do you know how long it takes for passports to expire? Ten years. Well, mostly. There are exceptions. But, generally: ten years. It has been ten years since I went to the post office, stood in front of their white wall in my “Shall We Dance?” red t-shirt with my perm-curls pinned up on my head and smiled faintly.
At that point I had yet to take a college class, yet to travel out of the country (Canada doesn’t count), yet to join the workforce or date anyone (I think?) or be gluten-free or host any pilgrimages or bicycle across the state or be consecrated to Mary (<3!) or take any circus classes or so, so many other things.
My passport is full of stamps, now. I kind of saw it as a challenge, really…all those blank pages positively taunting me. Through the grace of God I’ve seen so many places I’ve wanted to see: the castles and miles of salt mine and green, green meadows of Poland; the soaring basilicas and tasty gelato of Rome; the Holy Father when he visited Germany; etc.
But, I’ve also seen places, through the grace of God, I never had any intention of seeing. I’ve stood at the massacre sites and soccer fields of El Salvador; walked the long and tiring and disturbingly beautiful Camino de Santiago (twice!); sat (dehydrated) on the steps of the opera house in Australia. With passport in hand I’ve flown to Denver and New Orleans and Atlanta and other places I’m sure I’ve forgotten.
Isn’t life wonderful and crazy and confusing?
Sometimes, at parties and interviews and stuff, people will say to me: “Sooooo, what are your goals for the next ten years?” and I never, ever know what to say. If someone had asked the me of ten-years-ago, wearing the choker I made from hardware at a library program (judge it), my plans were to, like, go to beauty school or a convent. Period. Done. That’s it. But: look at all of the plans that God had. Is that not insanity?
One of my favorite quotes by Mother Angelica is, “If we don’t do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous.”
And, maybe I just jumped madly off-topic, because getting a passport isn’t all that ridiculous, is it? No, it’s not. People apply for passports every day.
But, it never hurts to be prepared for the ridiculous.
And, so, I have my passport ready.
Because who knows what will happen in the next ten years. 🙂
I look forward to it. God is a good God.
In my photos, I can see that I smile differently. I square off to the camera differently. At eighteen, there was still so much I didn’t know. At twenty-eight, there’s still a lot I don’t know. But, I do know this: God will take care of me. I can do things, even the hard ones. I’m strong and resilient, and the world is beautiful and full of wonder. I have experienced this, and I have a memento to prove it: a cardboard book of rubber stamps. 🙂