My passport just expired.
This was not my first passport, I had about 3 or 4 before that – but they were from my home country – Mexico. They were a bright, beautiful green.
This was my first blue passport. Getting it was the first right I exercised with my new citizenship.
I’ve separated my life into 3 segments.
The first is my childhood in Mexico. A whirlwind of true living. Intense extremes of highs from being the beloved first granddaughter, and lows from being hospitalized from tragic accidents. Bright and vivid memories of laughing the way only a child does at the seemingly wonderful and incredible things adults to do entertain them. Anxiety and fear learned from the metropolitan life of a big city, infamous like any other for it’s crime. That was never my focus though, no fear in the world was enough to over shadow the memories of the loud Church bells, the sound of the seasoning pot, and the smell of food always cooking while Spanish love songs played in the background. As we moved from the city to the beach, my love with the ocean was instant. Our surroundings had changed, but everything else remained the same. My grandparents with us, all the bright colors, the beautiful Spanish love songs, the spicy food, the Churches and the beaches, playing and laughing and watching the sunset walking around El Malecon.
The second segment began the minute my mothers path crossed with my ex-step father’s. I sometimes ponder the word hate. Do I harbor feelings towards anyone to really consider it hate? Most of the time I think I don’t, if I ever 100% decide that in fact I do hate, my step-father would be at the top of the short list. Uprooted to a brand new life with him without the bright colors and love of Mexico, I was heartbroken. The promise of a better life meant nothing to me if it was alongside him. It wasn’t enough to start a new life with students I didn’t understand, who didn’t understand me, candy that tasted like plastic, and placement testing that asked me to translate the word ‘taco’ – but being in his presence sucked the life out of me. From the minute I was forced to call his parents grandparents although I already had my own, I dreaded being near him. He was the villain in a movie we’ve all watched. Not an obvious villain, but the type who everyone loved. Mr. Charismatic, polite as possible, with dark, evil and devious secrets no one knew. Except for me.
The third segment is when he left. The transformation my life took was unforgettable. I graduated high school, a place I hated. None of it was for me. I started college and thrived. I fell in love with all of it. I was finally in control of my own life, making my own choices. I joined clubs, sports, used the library every single day. Although I always miss Mexico, I was finally cashing in on the dream I was promised. I saw a posting on campus for an international volunteer group that took students to different countries. I wasn’t even certain where Costa Rica was on a map at this point, but when I saw pictures that’s where I wanted to go. My new love of life orchestrated so many opportunities for me almost flawlessly. I got very good grades which qualified me for a grant – it coincidentally was the exact amount that the month long volunteer trip cost. I signed up. I had become a US citizen, applied for a passport, gotten the grant and was on a plane to Costa Rica within two months.
This trip changed me. In every way, in the best ways. It was the first stamp in my passport, my first trip alone, without my family, my first trip by choice. The life that was sucked out of me replenished tenfold, rooted so deeply that it will last a lifetime.This trip was everything to me. 10 years ago! The first of 10 years of stories, 27 countries, a million memories. Happy 10 years to me!!!
New passport pictures ready.