I am not one of those people who traveled anywhere as a kid. My childhood trips consisted of driving 1.5 hours to Columbus, Ohio to visit my grandparents. When I was 6 we went to Disneyland and though my memory is vague I have a slight recollection of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, which I do believe was incredibly badass. On two occasions my parents packed up the minivan and road-tripped us out to Myrtle Beach. My sister and I spent a week sunbathing and squirting lemon juice into our hair and then we packed ourselves up and drove home.
When I got my first real job and moved across the country to Oregon it dawned on me that I was suddenly and completely in control of my destiny. I could be whoever I damn well pleased. There are many benefits to moving to a new place where nobody knows you at all. One of them is that you are no longer saddled with other people’s long-held perceptions of who they believe you to be.
So I got to thinking. Who did I want to be?
I worked down the street from the post office and one day, out for a walk on my lunch break, I went inside and grabbed a passport application. I was way too broke to travel anywhere that required a passport, but I couldn’t keep myself from picking up that paperwork. I remember the thrill I felt as I walked back to my office, that yellow application clenched in my hand.
I wanted to be a traveler
A year later I deboarded a plane in Costa Rica. The morning air was thick as I walked down the stairs towards the open-air terminal.
I slipped my passport through the customs window and the thud of the stamp against the open page sent a tiny shiver down my spine.
A whole new country lay before me just waiting to be explored.
I realized as my passport slid back to me that I was holding the key to the world. That little blue book was my ticket to possibility.
That’s the power of a passport.