Today I grieve the forced retirement of my first passport. This object gets a ten year tenure for US citizens. A lot of my traveling is well documented on my YouTube channel, but the 2004-2011 period before I joined that community is largely on undeveloped film and memories alone.
Two things stand out in my mind most prominently: how much travel has changed since Facebook came onto the scene, and all the events I witnessed that I very much wish to recount but have to parse through very carefully because it is potentially incriminating to the people I’d be quoting and reporting on in ways that I can’t wrap my head around with 30 countries and further jurisdictions entangled.
I first put this passport to use in January 2005 when I moved to Denmark for a semester abroad. That summer when I started traveling in hostels, we heavily relied upon travel books and maps to get where we needed or wanted to go. There was more music in hostels and I found that information was a bit more spontaneous and laborious to come upon at the same time. The school I went to in Denmark was mostly attended by Americans from East Coast schools, many of them Ivy League, and so in the spring of 2005, Facebook was quietly making its rounds after its inception at Harvard a few months before. By 2007, when I was backpacking in Europe again after finished my Bachelor of Arts, most people under age 40 from English-speaking countries had Facebook accounts and we
were using it as a tool to rejoin travel companions from hostels in other cities. Since that time, it has been much easier to maintain acquaintances or long-distance friendships.
Living in a very courtly culture of restraint in the Midwest United States, I somehow have blundered into a lot of white collar crime, lesser known standard practice procedures, and continued encounters with people and information that I was completely out of my depth. I want to write about these experiences in more vivid detail, but will have to measure this information carefully. Some highlights of what happened I have already posted about, including this first article that is restricted access:
- Vancouver Scammers, Italy, the Debt Situation,
- Perplexing Denmark
- 1990s Russian Revival: Intangible Bubbles… Approach With Caution or Zeal
- Hosteling Rite of Passage: School of Life (Essential Education, Part I)
A passport represents both freedom and restriction. One literally, with the correct 30 or 40 passports in the world, can have the borders open to them, and at the same time, a passport serves as a reminder that we inherently do not have freedom of movement. To my knowledge, the passport that will grant the most privileges in accessing other countries is most likely a British passport (Commonwealth network, part of EU but not Schengen Area, an English-speaking
country). Western European nationalities, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan generally will have more privileges with their passports than what their countries offer potential guests.
It seems particularly fitting to me that this subject hits me the day after Columbus Day, a justifiably contentious public holiday in the United States. Borders. They are necessary until a more equitable world arrives to prevent flight to certain countries that may not be able to adequately accommodate new arrivals in a compressed period of time. Who deigns or intimidates a certain nationality having more value and protection, and what prevents the present order from being rearranged or dismantled?