I’ve been going through a bunch of old stuff since returning to Vejbystrand on Saturday. I brought with me three jam-packed binders with all kinds of ancient letters, travel memorabilia, odd concert receipts and even drawings from when I was a child back in 1968.
I don’t know what’s more impressive, the fact that I saved it all to begin with, or, that it’s survived all the moves I made on my own and all the addresses Charlotte and I have had since we met in 1996. While not exactly meticulously categorized, all of it is neatly placed inside transparent pockets. It really boggles my mind that I had the wherewithal to salvage so much of my history. I am above all happy for Elle. I don’t think she’s as confused about who her father is as I am about mine. But if she does read through some of my letters and those sent to me, including a rather lengthy, deep email exchange between me and a philosopher I was subbing at a high school for in Göteborg in the early 1990s.
Among the most interesting memorabilia is one of my old US passports. I became a dual citizen in 1998 or 1999 and most of the stamps are from the late 1980s or early 1990s. I’d almost forgotten how much I’d traveled before meeting Charlotte. So much so that in New Zealand, I had to ask the US consulate in Auckland to add a few pages to my almost fully stamped passport just to cover my onward trips to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand that year.
For about half a decade, I was a seasonal restaurant worker: winters in northernmost Sweden at Hotel Riksgränsen, summers in Visby (on the island of Gotland) at various watering holes. Most of the fall and beginning of winter I was traveling in Asia or the US. Rinse and repeat.
I remember how some immigration officers refused to place their country’s entry stamp or visa document next to a nation they weren’t on good terms with or, just didn’t like. Traveling between mainland China and Taiwan could me you might have to sacrifice two separate passport pages.
It’s going to be interesting to see if the yellow vaccination cards make a comeback or if future passports will be forced to include verifiable verification about inoculations. At this stage, traveling still seems like a distant dream.