Sunday, 13 May 2012

New stuff for old!!

I have a new passport.

I know, it's a tedious administrative necessity, getting a new passport. Get the photograph (no glasses, definitely no smiling - not even a twitch of the lips to suggest there might be anything comic in standing in front of grey paper with all your wrinkles on show). Fill in the wretched form. Take it to the post office where someone takes delight in checking every box, making you feel like a five-year old taking your lessons to teacher. Will you get a tick or a Big Red Cross?

Off it goes. With the old one (evidence, apparently, that I'm a real person). Trouble is, I've grown rather attached to the old one. It's battered, with crinkly corners. And almost every page is crammed with visa forms and immigration stamps and disembarkation stamps and illegible stamps that could be anything.  Evidence that I really have been to all those places, done all those things. Three stamps for Nepal; three for Cambodia; three for Singapore. Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia. Several trips to America - for work, and to see friends as well as the road trips. A trip to Venezuela when a daughter lived there.

Sometimes it all feels a bit unreal - as if it was someone else did all those things, while I sat in my lovely Wiltshire garden and tended the daffodils. Then I'd pick up the old passport, and drool over memories. Yes - that really was me, did all that.

And now - I have a new passport. The old one has been returned to me - so I can still pick it up, rub my thumb across the faded crest on the front, peer at visas and blurred stamps that take me straight back to the pristine airport in Singapore, or the chaos of the land border between Nepal and India.

The new one - with its e-chip and strange pixellated photo, smells too new. The pages are too crisp - and empty. It's crest is too bright, the motif legible. It taunts me with its newness - think you are a traveller, it says, and you've been nowhere. In time it will become an opportuntiy. But today it is just Too New.

So - I hadn't realised how much my passport matters to me.

What do you have that is aging, and comfortable, and part of your story? How will you manage when it no longer functions and you have to get a new one?


  1. Great post, Jo, and SO relevant for me at the moment as we're renovating our house, and going through all our things, trying to figure out what to keep and what to chuck.

    One thing I've decided I absolutely *have* to keep is a copy of 'Jurassic Park' by Michael Crichton. It's a paperback that someone gave to my dad, which was then passed on to me. The cover has come off, the spine's cracked, and the pages are worn and yellowed and falling out from so much reading and re-reading; I could just buy a new copy and get rid of this one, but I can't. Why? Because this book (and before that, the film that was made from it) was the story that inspired me to start writing stories of my own, and to decide I wanted to be an author some day. It's FAR too important a part of my own story to get rid of!

  2. Oh what an excellent post Jo! I'm exactly the same with passports!
    I miss the each old one....when I was very young I worked with P and O on board the ships...adn there were stamps from all over the world...and each stamp brought back a memory.OOh...St Thomas in the virgin Islands where one of the lifeboats caught fire, first date with my new boyfriend.....

    When I look back through them, it's the photos that get me too.I rember getting a passort in my thirties and being highly critical of the photo.Now I would give anything to look like that !

    But there's only one thing you can do now Jo - adn that's to get a trip booked pronto, and christen the new passport!

  3. I know that 'new passport' feeling Jo - really dislike the new one I had a few years ago, and before long I will need another! My oldest, battered thing, is the teddy I got for my 1st Christmas. He's virtually flat now, his fur is practically non-existent, and he has holes! But he's my first ted, so he's kept safely in a box so that he at least stays in his current state of direpair without getting any more dilapidated! I could never part with him, or replace him.

  4. Thank you all - it's a relief to know I'm not the only one with ridiculous attachments, not to 'stuff' in general but to something that is a very special part of who I am.