I went to the Passport Office today, because that’s what you do on the last day of the year. When you’ve read all the “do it now”, and “buy the shoes” posts, and you realize that you really must take action. So. This is where you start.
Today was the day that I found out who has the power in our country. As I sat there with the last ticket of the day, lucky number 26, I watched the agents turn away people, because it’s a holiday after all, and we’re swamped. I looked up at the number on the wall. They were on #2, and it was 11am. I was in for a long day, and as it turns out, it ended up 3.5 hours long. There. But, I was good with it, because I have plans for this salty year, this 2017. It starts with a Passport. More on that later.
I looked at the different groups of families, some alone, and some with many children. And in my gut, way way down deep, I was smug… feeling like it wouldn’t take me any time at all. I had my documents, I had my paperwork, I had my money. The agents would ask the children, “Who is your Mommy? What grade are you in?” One family forked over $500 for multiple passports.
But here’s the thing. No one was angry, or irritated. It wasn’t what you see, say, at the DMV office. It was quiet, calm, and oddly peaceful.
And. I was ready when they called my name.
I brought everything. EVERYTHING. I have been married twice, and I brought all Social Security cards. I brought birth certificates. I had court documents proving I was divorced. I explained the multiple name trail. I had been married, went back to my maiden name, was married again. Only twice, but it was difficult to explain four names. However, I felt secure in that I had prepared for this.
The agents told me I didn’t have enough-that I would have to explain how come I had so many names. That even though I had my birth certificate, and all my documents, they still needed to see why I still used my current name, though I have had it for 22 years, and it is mine. I almost cried. Because for a moment, I started to get frustrated that only the woman has to go through this. What about the multiple marriages of men? What about the hoops I have to go through? THIS is why I’m marching. This is unfair.
I looked down at my last passport, that time in 1989 that I was going to teach overseas and never did. I looked down at my only stamp, the honeymoon trip to Tahiti. I looked at my picture-a 29 year old who didn’t understand the import of this document.
And. Suddenly, I wasn’t angry. Because I noticed these words on the top of my expired Passport.
That America finds it so important to track down every piece of information to make sure that I am who I am. That I am the actual person who is going to travel, and to whom they are telling the world,
This citizen is ours. Give them the pass in and out. Take care of this person.
Who owns the power in America? I say this unequivocally. It is us. It is all of us. At the end of the day, I am ever so grateful to be here. To be a citizen of this great nation. To have read those words at the top of the passport. To be free and cared for…passing without delay or hindrance. I am free. We are free.
I left the office finally, to get ready for tonight. This is my last blog post of 2016, with New Years Eve waiting for me. With a Passport application winging its way to San Francisco. Because 2017. You are waiting. And I want to be ready.
Happy New Year’s Eve to all!