This tiny blue booklet has accompanied me around the world.
We had some misadventures. There was the time I left it in a pillowcase in Sintra. And once, the Israelis got weird about the fact that I didn’t want a stamp and escorted me to an underground bunker. They swabbed and scanned my shoes, again and again, for hours.
Everyone who sees the photo says I look like a serial killer. Wide eyes, lined heavily in black. Black hair (huge), black t-shirt with the collar cut out. A facial expression of equal parts boredom and rage.
These days the border patrollers look more closely at me, not sure if I’m the same person.
The girl in the photo had never left the United States. All the stamps and visas were ahead of her. Paris, Zilupe, Delhi. Partying with metal-heads in Latvia. Exploring abandoned dachas in Russia. Dancing at a squat in Amsterdam.
The girl in the photo thought that if she kept looking, she would find her people. It took her a long time to understand that she was a loner, not a joiner, no matter where she went.
Now I’m moving back to the United States after living in another country for some time. This will be the last trip I take with my beat-up serial killer passport.
The ones they issue today are stiff and junked up with patriotic line-art. I dread replacing my old friend. Partly for aesthetic and sentimental reasons. And partly because I’ll never be off to see the world for the first time again.