My passport is going to expire in a couple of months, and I have to mail it away to get a new one. It’s been feeling a little like retiring my battered hiking boots. So many adventures we had together!
When I first applied for this passport, I had never been anywhere out of the country. I had traveled a fair amount around the US, which is a very big and varied land, but never even as far as Canada. It seems impossible that was only ten years ago, and slightly astonishing to realize that once I got that passport in my hand, baby, I was gone, gone, gone!
As a young girl, my only desires were to write books, see the world, and be happy. It’s hard to grasp now how impossible it seemed to say those things–write books! See the world (the world?!) because we’re a much more sophisticated population these days. At the time, at 14 or 15, I didn’t know anyone who wrote anything, and the only person I knew who had traveled anywhere was my uncle, who had lived in Spain when I was a child.
By the time I finally got the passport, I’d sold a lot of books, and was fairly on fire to start travel, but I still had young teens in my house. So when I won a literary prize and knew I was going to spend it on travel, I took the boys with me. Ian was 15, I think, and Miles a couple of years younger. My mother went with us, too, also her first trip abroad, and we traipsed around England and Ireland for two weeks, a trip I planned entirely on my own with the nascent Internet, emailing with the owner of the flat we rented in Ealing, not far from the train which took us into London proper. We visited Bath and Ightham Mote, site of my beloved Green Darkness, and crossed the Irish sea to visit Cork and Dingle. Miles, a very picky eater, practically starved to death and lived on pastries, but his innate sense of direction kept us from getting lost countless times. Ian charmed the old men in Ireland, who spoke to him in Gaelic, and he kissed the Blarney Stone, which might have had something to do with all those debate wins, but maybe he was just born a clever Irish talker.
From there, it was a leap to hike in France with my buddy Sonia, right before 9/11. A trip that changed my
life in profound ways, ways that I’m still uncovering, years later. It was the trip that turned me into my fully hiking self and shook me loose of my old life and dumped me, unceremoniously, into the new one.
Which has actually turned out to be quite fine, and full of wanderings. Scotland and New Zealand one year (the lochs and mists and Wallace’s sword, his very, very sword that he held once in his own hand; the Bay of Islands and that long, empty, spectacular
beach in NZ, where a gang of wild horses trotted up to a ridge and scornfully looked down upon us, their wild manes blowing in the breeze). Canada, Vancouver and Victoria. And then England again, and Scotland, and Normandy’s beaches and Paris. And then, the last one on this passport, Naples and Matera and Bari and Kent again last year.
So much! Such a blessing to have the freedom to travel.
What new stamps do I want to see in the new one? Australia will be there, and New Zealand. But also, I want to see those India stamps and perhaps Morrocco and Ireland again. Spain would be very nice, and Mexico. No doubt there will be plenty of England, to see CR’s mother. And…I’ll leave some surprises up to the Universe. It seems to sometimes have the most delightful things up its sleeves!
What stamps do you want to add to your passport?