Earlier this year, I remembered that my passport was set to expire this month. I was a little sad to stop using it. My first passport had only held an embarrassing photo from middle school and stamps from Ireland and Niagara.
In comparison, my second passport was pretty decent. Right after the Niagara trip, I renewed my passport for my upcoming Study Abroad trip. On my journey to South America, I earned multiple stamps for Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. My favorite was the full-page visa for Brazil. I also received a fake stamp of a monument from the top of a mountain on the border of Argentina and Chile. It's on the inside of the back cover so please don't rat me out. After my Study Abroad trip and two unnecessary trips to Mexico (stories for another time), I went a while without being stamped again.
I traveled to London in 2011 and finally put my passport back to work. The following fall I went to The Netherlands and took a sidetrip to Belgium. I was a little annoyed that I hadn't earned any stamps for my Belgium trip since I'd traveled via train, but I obviously understand that not having to go through customs makes travel easier. The next year brought Asia - Thailand and Hong Kong - for which I received many stamps, and Italy, for which I earned stamps for Amsterdam again and Paris, since I didn't have direct flights. My passport wasn't a perfect reflection of my travels, but it sure meant a lot to me to flip through the pages and see where I'd been.
This week, I traveled with a brand-new passport. While waiting at the airport, instead of flipping through the pages, I flipped *out* a little instead. My passport will be valid until I am 39, which caused a little panic about how close I am to 39. This realization made me wonder what I will have accomplished by that time.
I will spend an entire decade with my passport, as everyone does, but it will be a legit decade in my life as well. My upcoming thirties will be defined by this passport and by how full I can make it.
While I'm still unsure about where I'll be in every other aspect of my life at that time, I know for sure that this passport will have way more stamps than my last. This is a promise to myself and to my passport that I'm excited to make. It's even more exciting when I remember how long it took me to get from 19 to 29. Let's do this.