Keys to the Highway

It’s an act of faith to drop your passport off in the mail. Granted, mine was only a temporary “emergency issue” passport, the one I picked up in Auckland under the nailbiting circumstances described earlier, but it was a passport, with all the magic metaphorical and literal powers such a word conjures. It’s a passport.

So dropping it off in the mail with a check and two pages of fill-in-the-blanks was an act of faith. Faith that the twin bureaucracies of the US Post Office and State Department will do their jobs as advertised. Faith that, allowing 4-6 weeks for standard processing, I’d find myself in possession of a new shiny, navy blue booklet of unrestricted 3 ½ x 5 inch freedom.

Made me surprisingly edgy to be without a passport. Kept checking the calendar, worrying about whether it would arrive before I suddenly felt the urge to skip out to Tokyo for kabuki, or Brussels for some fries. Not that I ever would. But knowing that, without a passport, no time or money on earth would get me there? Well, that just kept me on edge.

Arrived two days ago, in a nondescript letter-sized envelope. I glanced at the return address (“State Department”) and tore it open like a Wonka bar showing a glint of gold. Held the little booklet between my hands, as if to feel the warmth coming off it from some residual magic that lingered after it came off the printing press. Leafed through the empty pages, begging to be stamped with illegible visas by bored bureaucrats halfway around the world. Patience, my little prize, patience.

Of course, I’m now smitten with the desire to use it. Where? I dunno, just somewhere. I’ve got an empty passport – that’s like keys to the highway, with a full tank of gas. But honestly? I’m not going to get any ink on it for a while yet. I do have some travels coming up – DC in a few weeks, maybe Wyoming in July, but it’s all domestic. Going to have to wait until October or so for the next chance for an overseas roadtrip. 
Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted in the meantime – I really have resolved to write more. I’m coming to realize that putting words down in a line, stringing them into a narrative and hitting “Publish” is almost as therapeutic for me as a full night’s sleep, or a good hard run. I just feel better afterwards. Back at the Pole, when I wrote about honing the formula that got me through each day with my sanity intact? I’d boiled it down to three things: enough sleep, enough exercise, and a proper meal. I hadn’t taken into account that, back then, I was pretty much writing every day. You don’t miss the air until you’re not breathing it, right?

So, I’ll be writing more, if only for my own sanity. A lot of it will be mundane, dull, dull, dull stuff that doesn’t really have anything to do with roadtrips. For now, at least. You’ll have to forgive me for that – really, as they say, it’s not you, it’s me.

But – obligatory mention of an actual roadtrip: I was in Seattle for a few days last week. Yeah, I was bad: took no pictures, and didn’t write a damned thing about it. I did manage a few meanderings, though – along the ship canal and down through the base of Queen Anne. Paused every few minutes to look up into the overcast as another seaplane growled by overhead. It all felt familiar and comfortable in a way that surprised me. In the way that Pittsburgh didn’t anymore.

I found myself musing that, were I to move back to Seattle tomorrow, I’d wake up the next morning feeling like I’d been living there all along. Like, sure, I’d been away for a bit – extended travels, you know – but as far as living somewhere, that it wouldn’t have counted. Which is a bit strange, seeing as how I’ve had eight different postal addresses in the 19 (nineteen!??!?) years since I pulled up camp from the Rain City.

Didn’t try to make sense of it – didn’t seem like it was a feeling that asked for sense-making. Like a bit of abstract art, not asking to be understood, just asking “How does this make you feel?” And y’know, it felt okay.

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