passport1.JPGI need to go to the police to get my residency permit stamped into my new passport. They’re shut today but having got my passports out, old and new, I leaf through the pages. Each stamp brings back memories: Rome in March, walking the streets of Manhattan at 6 am, a bus crash outside Bangkok, times, dates, people, touching my palm against cool ancient marble or the grass in a famous park. And always the return to Bergen’s damp green mountains. Such a pity that stamps in passports have become so rare.

My favourite part of Megan Heyward’s I am a Singer (buy/borrow) is when you look at a page of the protagonist’s passport, going through her documents as she remembers who she is. Clicking on each stamp brings a different fragmented memory: lovemaking in Paris (of course), childhood in Sydney; I’ve forgotten the others.

6 thoughts on “stamps

  1. Eirik

    * quickly checking my UK passport, drawing sigh of relief when I find out the permit is still valid *

    Great posting, Jill: I’ve had the same thought many a time. Leafing through my own seven year old passport, I see that the stamps from South Africa and Zimbabwe are almost alone. None of the European countries I’ve visited since, or the U.S. for that matter, have left a physical mark…

  2. Jill

    Aren’t you a thorough-bred Norwegian, Eirik? I had no idea! And though I accept that the main purpose of stamping passports was probably never to give tourists souvenirs, it is kind of sad seeing the empty pages after visits around Europe. You can get a lot of stamps going back and forwards between the different sections of the airport in Amsterdam though: in and out of Schengen…

  3. francis s.

    It is sad, although now that I have a Swedish passport, the up side is that whether I’m in the U.S. or Europe, I’ll always be able to stand in the blue line… or is that the green line?

  4. Eirik

    Ah, the Newth name is the giveaway here. My Dad’s a Brit of Irish Catholic descent, and my siblings and I kept his citizenship although we were born and grew up in Norway (the law is different nowadays). I have a big family in Worcester in the Midlands (not to be confused with the Worcesters in Massachusetts and South Africa), and more distant relatives in most of the English-speaking world (including Australia and New Zealand). In fact, I registered the newth.net domain partly to get in touch with other Newths, and it has worked quite well. I get the occasional mail and usually pass them on to my Dad, who is the keeper of the family records. 🙂

  5. Jill

    Aha. Newth is rather an unusual name in Norway, isn’t it… And dual citizenship, Francis, oh, I wish the Norwegians would let me do that. The Australians will now, after changing the law, but Norway still says no no no, see, they’re on the list of no dual citizenship countries. I’ve wondered though, whether Australia’s new law wouldn’t mean that even if I told Norway I gave up my Australian citizenship, and handed in my Australian passport, the Australians mightn’t still count me as Australian. In fact, Danny Butt couldn’t relinquish his citizenship. Well, OK, maybe he could, but it was hard…

  6. Thomas

    I remember a story from a few years back about an american who was frustrated that he did not get any stamps in his passport on his “Great European Journey”, so he went to the post office and asked them to stamp it to prove he had been to wherever. They said they could not do that, “all we stamp is stamps…”. So he bought a postal stamp, glued it into his passport, and … hey presto, the mail clerk stamped the passport! Don’t know if that will work today, or if it somehow invalidates your passport, but it would be fun to try.

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