No Longer Valid

I have a new passport. It has a new name and a new picture. So far it's my only legal document with my new name other than the marriage license that granted it. It's strange and thick and empty. I'm not sure who the woman is that it belongs to yet. I got my old passport back a few days after my new one came. Hole punched, no longer valid. It was my second passport, so I've already know the joy and pain of seeing a passport retired, but it's been a while.

My second passport had visas for Turkey and India, stamps for Mexico and France. The picture is of a smiling eighteen year old not so secretly full of pain and hurt and anger and a deep, deep, desire to be anywhere grief cannot follow.

Grief always follows.

That young woman set out to change the world. She sat with Tibetan monks in the Himalayan foothills, she taught at orphanages and dug compost pits, she washed linens in one of Mother Theresa's hospitals, she did yoga every morning and she wrote every night, and she RAGED. She was not stranger to shouting or the kind of tears that come with wailing, uncontrollable.

Sometimes I forget we are the same person.

Sometimes I think I have not come far, that hardly anything has changed in these first ten years of legal adulthood.

I still want to do my part to change the world. I still teach. I still carry sadness and anger and grief inside me, we don't do battle every day though. We don't do battle much at all any more, except in the depths of winter. The rest of the year, we mostly manage to sit with each other.I want to say I no longer rage, but I think that is not true. I think we live in a world in which it is impossible not to rage from time to time but I choose my battles. I've learned how to live with my overwhelming empathy and thin skin, how to protect myself without shutting out everyone else.

This new passport belongs to a married woman. A woman who feels settled in her skin, in her city, in her career. This new passport belongs to somebody who is going to use it as much as that eighteen year old thought she was going to use that last one but never quite managed. Soon this passport will go to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Lviv, Turkey and on to South Korea, it's home base for the next two years. Hopefully from there, it will explore Asia.

I still haven't quite managed the art of being comfortable with being comfortable. I am sad to leave the place that has always felt more like home than anywhere else in the world but I'm ready for the next big shake up, maybe the last big shake up before the real business of adulthood sets in. I'm excited for the time and energy and freedom to create. I'm terrified of not working, of not defining myself as my job, but so thankful for the opportunity to let my numb hands and stiff and painful joints really heal.

Who is the woman this passport will belong to? Who am I not mentally and physically exhausted every day? Who am I not in constant physical pain? Who am I in Korea?

I think in essentials, I am always the same, but maybe when this passport comes back in ten years, hole punched, no longer valid, I'll know something different.