I was about to start Dostoevsky’s Demons when I decided to write this nagging entry. Last week, on the way to Plaza Espanya, I found my old passport stuck in the tiny pocket of my hand luggage. I don’t use this bag often so this passport has been here for years until last Friday. Seeing it again flooded me with so many travel memories so I kept it in my hand bag for several days, all the while thinking for the title of this article.
This was my very first passport, issued in 2008 which I consider the turning point of my life. I was 24.
In May that year, I went abroad for the very first time, together with my husband who is returning to the Netherlands after more than two years of living in the Philippines. We can hardly be considered a serious couple then, having just hooked up five months before. That first trip sort of decided whether what we were having was true love or just a passing dalliance. After two months, we’ve decided that we can’t live far from each other so I began processing a more permanent visa to the Netherlands which luckily got approved. However, when I went back to the Philippines, I was faced with several immigration hurdles that kept me in the country for several more months, hanging my future and my sanity on a ridiculous accusation of a jealous ex girlfriend.
In the middle of those harrowing months, my editor saved me from my suicidal tendencies by sending me to a familiarization trip to China, allowing me to experience Guangzhou and Shanghai in a very pampered manner – that includes a night at the posh Ritz Carlton hotel. For a few days, I was relieved of my depression, enjoyed a completely different world and became a little more positive.
Looking at these first two visas in my passport, I am reminded of how the world opened up for me for the first time in such extreme circumstances. When 2009 started, I came back to the Netherlands and began travelling to parts of the world previously unknown to me. And I have not stopped since.