Farewell Passport 152027909

Travel Stories: Jeffrey Tanenhaus says goodbye to his little blue book with a travel poem

05.19.09 | 10:50 AM ET

After 10 years, the time has come to apply for a new passport, and I’ve suddenly turned sentimental. When the expired document is returned, its substitute arrives with big pages to fill; a decade’s worth of records is wiped clean. I’m no stamp junkie, but I can’t deny the satisfaction of having requested supplementary pages and almost using them up, too. More importantly, this passport is an abridged catalogue of my roaring 20s—the only object that links backpacking through Europe during college with two years of working in Asia and a seven-month stint in South America.

Farewell Passport 152027909*

Dear trusty passport, your expiration is true,
the State Department says it’s time for something new.
You’ve lost function, but I’m eternally grateful
for the open doors the bald eagle enabled.
Around the world we traveled both near and far,
in Sardinia we crashed the rental car.
Stranded in Abu Dhabi was also no joke,
when denied re-entry after the plane broke.
Prague pickpockets tried grabbing you while on the trolley,
a visa on arrival got us into Bali.
Of trips to Guam and Ireland there is no trace,
in Israel I made sure that was the case.
In Myanmar together we overstayed,
the recorded fine takes up one whole page.
Japanese immigration always stamped you well,
getting those work permits was bureaucratic hell.
When Argentine authorities gave us 90 days,
we reset the clock by boating over to Uruguay.
And from Tallinn to Helsinki we went by sea,
then flying on to Denmark to see Tivoli.
Technology has evolved since issue in ‘99,
a biometric chip in your replacement I’ll soon find.
The last of a dying breed,
pre-9/11 you were conceived.
Out of pages and past your prime,
to Los Cabos was our last time.
So goodbye old 152027909, our parting is hard to face,
newly printed 450282594 is ready to take your place.

* The passport number has been changed.


Jeffrey Tanenhaus is a freelance writer and photographer. His work has appeared in newspapers and magazines in New York, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem.

5 Comments for Farewell Passport 152027909

rodolfo 05.19.09 | 11:36 AM ET

charming! i only wish i had been to half of the places he mentions… sigh.
well done! a nice little twist on the typical country-list or trip review.
we are indeed so personally connected to those little markers of our identity, which allow us passage.

Hal Amen 05.19.09 | 2:55 PM ET

Wow…European roaming in college, 2 years working in Asia, 7 months in S. America…did I write this? You’ve just described the last 6 years of my life.

Christy 05.20.09 | 12:06 AM ET

this is great…:-) good job… i hope someday my passport is as well stamped as yours was…

leslie 05.20.09 | 10:25 AM ET

i love it! my new passport arrived a few months ago, and I felt much he same way. the beat-up little blue book that took me around the world in a decade remains my most cherished souvenir.

Darrin 05.21.09 | 10:28 PM ET

A fine send-off!  I just had mine renewed this year too.  Good luck with actually seeing stamps on top of the patriotic images on the newly-styled pages.  I’ll have to admit that I enjoyed the quote from the Mohawk version of the Thanksgiving Address, though.

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