Sunday, February 9, 2020

Passport ready, so where to?

Kim and I just completed the final paperwork needed to declare that we are who we say we are, since our actual physical being on the planet doesn't seem to be enough anymore. I guess it never was.

We applied for passports on Saturday, taking advantage of passport day in the Clerk of Court's office at the Davidson County courthouse.

We just recently received our new Real IDs about a month or so ago, which required us to collect all kinds of personal identification, from birth certificates to social security numbers to utility bills (for proof of residency) to voter registration cards. Anyway, some of the identification stuff we needed for our Real IDs also helped with applying for our passports.

We've never had passports before. We never had occasion to leave the country. But recently, I learned that there might be an opportunity for me to go to Normandy, France, to visit the site of the D-Day invasion. As a history buff, this is a very real bucket list item for me, and I ain't getting any younger.

Kim isn't much of a traveler, but we once mulled over the idea of going to Ireland. She's a potato loving strawberry blonde who has both Martin and Combs blood in her, so there's that. And I like the occasional black and tan. Getting a passport will open that door.

Or it could be that we're getting passports for no reason at all. We may never travel; you never know. But we live in strange and paranoid times. Who'd ever think we'd need a Real ID to fly to Alaska? Who'd ever think that we'd build a wall? The time may come when passports are required to cross state lines, who knows? Aren't Real IDs really a precursor to that anyway?

I get antsy filling out applications. Even though I have a college education, applications can be so, so ...  vague. Am I filling in the right info? Do I go to jail if the information I give is incorrect? What do they mean when they ask if I go by any other name? What, what, what?

And the wheels of government can be daunting. I feared there'd be a sizable crowd Saturday morning, and when we arrived at the courthouse at the appointed hour, there were about 20-30 people ahead of us in line.

We sat in chairs waiting for our turn to be called. Meanwhile, Kim overheard a nearby conversation where some guy mentioned that he was on a vacation years ago and who thought he had been drugged because he swears there's a 48-hour blank in his head where he doesn't remember anything at all.

"Where'd you go?" Kim asked this total stranger.

"Puerto something or other," said the total stranger, naming an actual place that I never heard of but sounded as if it could have been south of the border wall.

"Well," said Kim, "we're certainly not going there."

As it turns out, we were in the courthouse for less than a half hour. The nice employee who did our processing – Ashley Potts, if her name tag is her real ID – carefully read and checked every line we filled out. We passed the application test. Whew.

"You should be getting your passports in four to six weeks," said Ashley.

That's good to know. It's good to know I am who I say I am. Now I have the papers to prove it.

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