816 North Diversions

Passport to open doors

Passport to open doors

Once upon a time, in a not-so-faraway land, a young girl wanted to travel. Although shy, with her parent’s help she went to the authorities and got her required documentation.

Then, with her parent’s treasure, she took her first trip to a foreign land. There she realized that the world was so much larger than her village. Colors she had never seen! Foods she had never tasted! Words that sounded so beautiful even though she had only the faintest understanding of what they meant.

She returned changed; no longer shy but outgoing, excited and ready for wherever her life would go.

The young girl grew into a young woman and traveled as often as the opportunity became available. But those chances became fewer and fewer each year. She was excited to see the villages and kingdoms nearby her home, she even moved to several of them, but the choices she made kept her from exploring foreign lands.

By the time her first documentation expired she had responsibilities (and a lack of resources) that kept her tethered to her village.

“Maybe I should be ready, just in case,” she thought.

When she received her fresh set of documentation she was hopeful of travel as she lived her fairly ordinary village life.

Over the years she would take her travel papers out, look at them, dream, then put them away. Like a photo album with only one picture in it, she would turn the blank pages imagining the story that book could tell if it was filled with colorful welcomes from other lands. She was ready if an opportunity presented itself…but it never did.

Year after year it was the same: Open book. See blank pages. Dream of the day someone would add their own stamp.

But the book never left her cottage.

Each year the woman grew older, wiser, more experienced; she and her husband raised three children. Her life was good, privileged some would say, and she couldn’t deny it.

She was happy and her faraway travel dreams faded as her travel documents drifted further to the bottom of her family’s treasure chest below birth certificates, death announcements and special life remembrances.

Many years later, long after the papers that allowed her to travel to countries other than her own had expired, her shy, young daughter came to her with a request.

“Mom, I’m going to take a gap semester to travel, I need a passport.”

When the older (wiser, more experienced, sophisticated) woman heard this she jumped into action.

“I need to renew mine! We’ll go together!”

The two gathered things that were needed, the woman wasn’t going to allow anything to distract them. It didn’t matter that almost two decades had passed since the woman had done this, she guided her daughter through the web of sites, paperwork and copies.

But the woman DID allow things to stand in the way. Meetings. Chores. “The lines are too long.” “It costs so much money.” One excuse after the next.

She knew it was wrong and she felt horrible about it. Then, one day, a cancellation in the woman’s schedule opened a door and the woman would let no excuse enter.

The two dashed off to the closest government office, but when they arrived they saw a sign.

This office closed.

The woman sighed deeply, almost in despair, but it was her daughter’s turn to jump into action. She pulled out a magical, Apple navigational tool from her pocket and told her mother, “I can get us there!”

And she did!

There was no line.

The kind man behind the desk quickly took their photos and made their paperwork official for new books. Fresh books. Books ready to be filled with stories of travel, or maybe, only dreams of it.

And those stories will happen when the women open their own doors into happily ever after.

Susan Vollenweider lives in the Northland. To listen to the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.

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