Thursday, July 3, 2014

Passing The Torch

Well here I am, ensconced in the middle of a sultry Jersey summer.  I survived the end of the year at school and all the madness that entails, and have wrapped up my first stint behind the admin desk in fine fashion (or at least I think I have).  Now I am taking my well earned leisure time, since lord knows we didn't get enough breaks this year.  

So far my vacation has been good times, with frequent trips to the beach and boardwalk, many chances for beers, and even a return to some of my greasy haunts of yesteryear.

I have to say, there is something surreal about walking into a bar you last inhabited 20 years ago, when your band played there for the last time, and having the owner remember you (and, incidentally, give you a free beer).  That's the kind of moment that makes you think about where you've been, where you are, where you are going . . . and before you know it you're curled into a fetal position in the parking lot, clutching a beer to your chest, and singing the theme to "Golden Girls" in between sobs.

Although all of the above could also be caused by encountering the famous Jersey Tan whilst hobnobbing on the boardwalk.  Don't worry, you guys totally don't look like Goblins.  

Right before leaving sunny Cairo for sunny Jersey I passed a huge milestone in my life- I got a new passport. Why, you ask, you sexy, hopefully-not-orange-skinned things you?  Because my former passport had been filled up.


She doesn't doesn't have the same passion these days.

 It literally could take no more.

And she's kind of let herself go . . .

"That's what she said" jokes aside, it was pretty cool to realize I had actually filled the thing.  I had gotten two extensions to the old girl, one in Myanmar and one in Congo, and it still wasn't enough to accommodate me (okay, I'll stop).

Switching out passports is definitely a time of reflection, existential pondering, and paperwork.  And waiting in lines.  But mostly reflection.  When I got the first passport I was a doe eyed youth of 29, and the furthest I had been abroad was an ill advised trip to Mexico and a dalliance with  a Quebecois Denny's.  Little did I know that just 8 years later I would have visited dozens of countries, met wonderful, beautiful people from all over the world, have the privilege to work with so many different cultures and groups, and try enough different beers to satisfy all but the most cravat-engorged hipsters.

When I flip through her pages I remember all the times we had together . . . getting detained by customs in Vancouver, heading over to Thailand for the first of what would become 33(!) trips, spending a wonderful two weeks on the beaches of Vietnam, seeing the sun rise on New Year's day at The Acropolis, being able to spread my thunder far and wide over the four  corners of the globe . . . I could go on but I think this would turn into the world's least sexy vacation slideshow.  But wait, hold on- everyone likes slideshows, right?  No?  Well, too bad.  Here are a few of my favorite memories from the time of my first passport . . .

Ooooh baby camel- taken during a desert camping trip in Egypt.

Ooooh baby Burmese kiddos.  Taken during a wonderful week long trek through the jungles of Myanmar.

All decked out for the Water Festival in Yangon- one of the most fun truck rides anyone can ever hope to take part in.  I looked forward to this every year.

The view from my balcony in Myanmar- still my favorite place to have lived thus far, even accounting for the censorship rage.

The first party from my first week in Mallorca.  I met tons of great folks that summer and had amazing adventures.  I liked it there so much I've gone back for the last two years after graduating!

My favorite bar in Congo.  Right by the river.  One of the places that made me feel privileged to do what I do.

Thanks for the memories, you sexy, well worn, slightly heavier than you used to be thing.  You changed my life, literally.  For anyone who wants to travel abroad, and has the means to do so, but also has doubts or crippling fears about the lack of thunder, just go and do it.  You never know what you might find, see, taste, drink, or make out with that could potentially change your life, hopefully for the better.

And so I say goodbye to you, dear friend.  Thanks for the memories: good, bad, greasy, and otherwise.

And you- you clean, no wrinkled bastard.  You have some big shoes to fill.  Hopefully in another 8 years I will be able to say the same about the great times you've brought into my life.

Happy July 4th, everyone!  Have a Liberty beer for me!