I always liked my passport. It was* black and thin and slipped nicely into my back pants pockets. Whenever I get sad about things, I can just look into it and see the stamps from my first trip to Poland (ah! what a good time! Jestem lebe Polski pywo…) and also remember the fun time when I took the bus into Poland from Ukraine…
* - You see where this is going, don’t you?
My passport is a cherished document that is loaded with memories. Not only that, it is a symbol of my freedom to go almost anywhere* in the world at any time I want. If I feel shut-in by my job or the ever-growing pile of unlaundered clothing on the part of my bedroom floor that is actually uncovered sometimes, I know that in a drawer somewhere** lies my ticket to liberty and the proclamation of my sovereignty.
* - Well, except non-SAR People’s Republic of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russia, Ukraine until very recently, etc.. but should I exhibit a desire to (re)visit these places for any length of time, please bat me over the head with a Styrofoam pool toy.
** - Under a pile of clothes and Babylon 5 tapes.
So I took my passport with me to Montréal, which wasn’t really necessary, because even these days you can travel domestically with just a provincial-issue ID or driver’s licence. But I wanted to use my passport at the airports, just to feel like I was going somewhere special, and in many ways I was, in mind as well as body.
To make a long story short, I got up yesterday morning to go to work, and since it was a business casual dress day, I slipped on a pair of freshly laundered slacks. Then I felt some thing in my back pocket that was like a wadded-up Kleenex.
Yeah. T’was my passport.
My first reaction was shock, but then I made myself laugh. Really, this is quite a funny thing to have happen, from a certain point of view. I took what was left of it downstairs to show my mom. “You know what the problem is,” she said to me later. “Paul never puts anything in his pockets, and I’ve gotten out of the habit of checking them.” (I compulsively check pockets when I do the laundry, but lately I’ve been letting Mom do mine. Paul (my stepfather) is unlikely to do the laundry again, as he has MS and is bound to a wheelchair most of the time.)
Later though, as I was finishing getting ready to go to work, I felt like crying. My Ukrainian visas were in that passport, and I’d never get another one. I had planned to keep that passport for the rest of my life as a memento. For instance, it would survive longer than a box of Kopernik gingerbread. Not to mention that the passport would be expensive to replace – it will be more money than I make in an entire day. The thought of answering phone calls from people who can’t read their bills for eight hours straight isn’t really a very nice one. Still, it’ll definitely teach me to put my passport away first when I come back from a trip in the future. This is the kind of mistake that just about everybody has to make once, and I accept that.
* * *
I took Paul to the new Cobequid Centre this morning for a blood test. It felt like going into another world. The façade of the building reminded me of a small airport, although the only trip we were going on was the journey to better health. Inside they have a new, ultra-modern waiting area, and for those nostalgic about the old building on Memory Lane, don’t worry – they still have the same old waiting times. For Our Convenience, they’ve also added paid parking, and the money goes to support important health centre programs such as buying six-year-old copies of Golf Digest to provide to waiting patients. We were lucky, we only had to wait about two hours and fifteen minutes for the five-minute test.
I had parked at the nearby ball diamond, so I’d saved $$$ on the parking, but felt guilty about it when we passed the sign that said what the money was going towards. Also, waiting for Paul gave me the chance to finish reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and let me tell you – that Christopher kid is my hero. I had tears in my eyes as I read the last pages. If you know me from childhood (or even high school) and you’ve read the book, you’d know why.
* * *
I got a letter from Dwight today. Dwight and Carol were my host parents back in Grande Prairie. I remember how I often complained about their comparative lack of permissiveness, but now I think they really were the best fit for Czarek and I. I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Carol, but I should have made more of an effort to understand the things she valued. I should also have done this in Ukraine; it’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve stopped thinking of my host family as being sour or taciturn in any particularly pronounced way, and now I realize that I’ve been too hard on them. I won’t go as far as to say that they were the best fit, but they were a fit after a fashion, and I haven’t been thankful enough for all they’ve done for me. Even if I wasn’t a pariah to them then, I should certainly be one now, because they can rightly see me as an ungrateful snot; but deep down I know they probably just wonder what was up with me, and they’ve no doubt moved on as I have.
Dwight and Carol have also moved house, into something smaller. It looks like they didn’t have any problems selling, as Dwight says that the economy in Grande Prairie is booming, which is saying something because it looked like it was already in supernova when I was there two years ago. I could probably get a pretty good job if I went up there, and since I know people there like Dwight, Carol, and Cedrick, it would be an easier move than some others I could postulate. I wasn’t particularly happy in Grande Prairie, but unlike Ostroh, Ukraine, I can almost entirely pin the responsibility for this on myself. And Grande Prairie was easier to understand, too. But now I remember how much I lamented the cultural discrepancy between the Peace Country and Halifax, and I think I’d be better off staying down here, at least for now.
* * *
One of the things I’ve been doing post-heartbreak is experimenting with OKCupid! Come for the tests, stay for the photos and profiles. And now I’m actually starting to get responses to my messages, which makes me very happy. As things go in general (not just with stuff like this), I let myself get discouraged far too quickly. As Dr. Chris told me, life rewards the persistent. And even when it doesn’t, you still learn a lot along the way.