Last night as J and I were coming home from work, I picked up our mail and noticed a bulky Priority Mail envelope in the pile of mail. I looked on the return address and saw it come form the United States goverment. Could it be? After years of sitting on my ass waiting for it to happen it finally happened? "It" being the issuance of my new passport. The last time I had a passport in my hand in 1998, a year after I had to get a replacement passport for the one I lost a year earlier so that I could to go Vietnam with the rest of my family. Before I could use the 1997 replacement passport to rob a bank and then hightail it out of the country, I lost the replacement passport.
After close to 10 years without a passport, why would I have gotten a passport now? Because of the Maryland DMV that requires a CURRENT passport or U.S. birth certificate (which I don't have because I was born in Vietnam) or a Certificate of Naturalization which I don't have because my parents petitioned for me to become naturalized under their own citizenship. I find it crazy (but lucky for me) that the U.S. accepts an expired passport as proof of my citizenship but the state of Maryland does not. But really, the cranky state of Maryland just gave me the kick in the pants to do what I should have done ages and ages ago. I should say that I look completely puffy in my passport picture and I blame the evil passport office for stretching my face to look a zillion pounds heavier than the little passport picture that I gave them.
It's such a freeing feeling to have a piece of I.D. that allows me to just hop to Europe and North America as my schedule and finances allow. So where would I want to go with my newfound freedom of travel?
1. Toronto - J and I honeymooned in Toronto and it's one of the best cities in the world. Unbashedly progressive, incredibly diverse in both culture and cuisine, Toronto boasts FOUR Chinatowns, a Koreatown, a thriving Slavic community, a little Greece and the adorable St. Lawrence Market.
2. Vancouver - For much the same reason as Toronto. I've heard nothing but good things.
3. VeniceFlorenceRome - I don't think ANYONE who reads this blog needs any exaplanation of having Italy on the list. I've been to Italy twice in my life. Once with my parents at age 14 and once during my study abroad year. I had a blast every single time. I still remember the taste of proscuitto-wrapped figs that we ate at a restaurant near the ponte vecchio.
4. Fontainebleau, France - I've waxed poetic about going to the bakery there and getting baguettes fresh out of the oven. This place is a new urbanist's dream. A 40 minute train ride to Paris, this suburb has a chateau that Napoleon built for Josephine. THe town of Fountainebleau has a Wednesday market that include fresh foodstuffs of all kinds AND a pretty kicking flea market.
5. Hong Kong, China - I know I would probably need a vacation from this vacation because Hong Kong is New York on steroids. Or New York without zoning regulations. However, I've heard Hong Kong is the true capital of Chinese cuisine and that a lot of the high quality food in China gets shipped ot Hong Kong and Shanghai.
My little blue passport with the gold embossed eagle is safely tucked away in our filing cabinet ready to go when I want to hightail it out of the country.