It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gadabout traveller in want of an adventure must be in possession of a passport. It’s a quaint old system. Most countries dig it as a means of controlling the movement of the population, entrenching cultural identities, shackling free-spirits to a culture of bureaucracy, keeping tabs on the sorts that in the 18th century would have been afeared pirates or elusive highwaymen, and, of course, squeezing us for quids. “Administrative costs.” Mostly I’m all for all those things in the name of a good jolly.
EXCEPT WHEN I’M SUPPOSED TO GO SOMEWHERE FOREIGN AND FIND I’VE BLOODY LOST IT.
You’ll forgive me I’m sure for being a bit sullen that I am here with you on a Monday morning in Essex. It’s just that I am supposed to be in Budapest – capital city of Hungary, jewel in the crown of the Danube, a ruddy big river in Europe, a place across the seas. I’m supposed to be in raptures over exotic stuff, sniffing paprika up each nostril at the suggestion of a sausage-wielding bohemian lurking on a beautiful neo-gothic street corner. I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE, BLIGHTY YOU BORE.
Wind back to last week when I was snug as a bug in bed, just about to turn out the light when I had one of those ‘bolt upright’ moments. Apropos of nothing I lurched forward like someone had socked me in the gut, reached across to the bedside drawer that normally stows my important stuff (emergency sewing kit, strange notes I write to myself that bear no meaning after five minutes, old theatre programmes, a lighter even thought I do not smoke, AND MY BLOODY PASSPORT), and was met by instant panic. Not there. Five minutes of rustling gleaned no results. Twenty drawers, two trunks, a wardrobe, multiple boxes/whicker cases, endless home surfaces later, and nada. No passport. No where.
I thought back to the last few times I’d had it, as ID in the post office when they’d taken 30 seconds to milk me for seven quid putting a verification stamp on a bit of paper. It was like the Queen hated me. I vaguely remembered a moment of wrestling Matt to the ground of our new flat when he plucked it up from the coffee table in the lounge and threatened to look at the picture. We tussled. I won. My chubby spam-head furrow-faced self of 2004 stayed safely sandwiched between Her Majesty’s maroon. And then what? Then where? WHAT THE FUCK DID I DO WITH IT? I have no idea. But it’s gone.
I don’t mind admitting that when Matt went out I had a little cry. I didn’t think he should have to behold snot and puffy eyes as well as missing out on spicy sausage and dancing ancient folk quadrilles in baroque boozers.
I beat myself up for a good few days. I was so cross. It pervaded everything I did and I kept thrusting my face into Matt’s nooks, apologising for my idiocy. He was stoically resolutely lovely. In truth, I think this made it worse.
And then came the natural juncture when I knew I had to let it go. Stop launching myself across the room into Matt’s lap pouting like a manic depressive duck. Accept it. Stop bitching about myself to myself. Just let it go. It gets harder as you get older to let a bad mood slide away, doesn’t it? Something to be worked on I guess.
I’m sure I’d find it easier to adopt zen-like acceptance if I hadn’t just realised I’ll have to GET NEW BLOODY PASSPORT PHOTOS DONE. THE UNBEARABLE AGONY OF THE UGLIFYING BOOTH.
But that in itself is a fresh new start of a kind. I can let 2004 face go. Finally.