This month I’ve had two events that have made me nostalgic and emotional about my past travels. The first was that my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. Yep, our marriage is old enough to drink. The second was passport memories.
Looking back at our first year as a couple, it’s only natural that we’d love to travel together. We met on-line and dated long-distance for a year, meeting up in fun destinations like New Orleans, Omaha and Atlanta and lesser known small towns like Meridian, Mississippi and High Point, North Carolina. We were so giddy in love at the time that we probably could have met almost anywhere, but we always made a point to explore these places and get a feel for them even on a really, really tight budget.
Our first big trip together was to visit his family in Salt Lake City, where we stayed for a few days before heading south to camp and to explore the incredible National Parks of Utah. Little did he know that I was a novice camper, and had never slept in a tent before, but I rocked hiking the trails and discovered a part of the world I wish I had seen sooner.
Flash-forward two years and we were camping again – this time at Grand Teton National Park, getting chased by Canada geese, and marveling in the beauty of the snow-capped mountains. Then we trekked to Yellowstone, watching Old Faithful and the other geysers to burst, searching for bison and bears, and seeing the yellow stone carved out from the waterfall and river though the … Nick was adamant one day about up to an overlook for a better view, but it was really a rouse to find a secluded spot where he ended up proposing. And, since I proved my camping prowess (or lack thereof) and hooked him, we haven’t camped in a tent since – hotel rooms, cabins or AirBnBs for me, please!
Our honeymoon marked the first time that Nick had been out of the country and my first time to Europe – an adventure to be sure! We navigated our way around Portugal and Spain, and even wrecked our rental car (and a good lesson that having a travel credit card with rental car insurance is imperative!). Since that time we’ve been to 30 countries together and even lived in Montreal and Shanghai, and adopted our sweet boys from Vietnam and China. Travel is in our blood and was part of our relationship from our very first date when I drove from Atlanta to Memphis to meet him (much to the chagrin of my parents at the time!).
The second event of the month was the fact that I had to renew my passport for our travels in 2019. As many can attest, it’s hard to give up that little navy blue book with stamps and visas that are memory markers for your travels.
I remember handing it over to the Thai police to keep at the border of Myanmar, not sure if it would be there when we returned from our trip.
This was also the passport that had the visas for my trips to Vietnam to adopt my older son as well as my visa for China to adopt his little brother. Nate’s adoption from Vietnam took three years and a lot of emotional and financial strain, as well as fighting and lobbying both U.S. and Vietnamese governments. I even went to visit him once, but leaving him and not knowing when I’d be back to bring him home was the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do. Seeing visas that I applied for because we thought we’d be able to bring him home sooner, but which were never used, brought back some teary memories.
However, seeing the stamp for Chicago when we brought him home to the U.S. as well as the one when his brother came home turned my sadness into joy.
Even better, was reliving the places that we’ve been able to travel to overseas with the boys – Japan, England, Iceland, and others which have enriched both their lives as well as mine. Seeing Alex’s reaction to ACTUALLY being at the Eiffel Tower instead of seeing it on TV or a book is still one of my favorite mom moments ever.
There are limitless reasons to travel, but making memories is at the top of my list. Looking through my old passport plays back some of my most poignant and favorite memories.
And, if you haven’t applied for a passport, go ahead and do it. And, if you have a passport, check the expiration date. Many countries will not let you cross the border if your current passport is within six months of expiring. I received my renewal in about two weeks. You never know when that cheap fare to Costa Rica, Hong Kong, or Rome will pop up!