My parents must have known that I would become a world traveler: I was issued my first passport at the age of 4 weeks!
I was born in Hollywood, but my family moved to Scotland a few weeks later so that my Dad could earn his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. This photo tells a whole story: my Mom looks like a supermodel (she still does.) My sister Heather is obviously not thrilled about the whole passport picture experience. But I appear to be sleeping through it. In fact, I’m told that I slept through the entire transatlantic flight! Perhaps this explains why I am still able to sleep on planes: early conditioning.
But I almost didn’t survive that first flight to London Heathrow. My mother tells this story:
As we boarded the plane, I followed after Heather, clutching a purse, a diaper bag, an overstuffed carry-on case and wearing a backpack designed to carry a toddler. At barely two months of age, Lindsay was only a sleeping bump in the bottom of the backpack but as I edged down the aisle, one of the shoulder straps broke! The pack began to sway gently from side to side behind me. Unable to even turn around, I went white and yelped! An attendant quickly figured out the problem and helped me re-fasten the strap while I started babbling that we were moving to Scotland for three years and, and, and…. “I didn’t think you were going for three weeks, Luv,” he said with a wry smile as he helped me limp to my seat with the baby and the luggage. We were seated next to an elderly lady in a black chador who seemed terrified, gripping a row of beads, rocking back and forth and softly chanting prayers throughout the take-off. That was our first flight to Europe.
It’s quite fortunate that I didn’t get dropped on my head before I’d even had a chance to travel the world. But my real passport drama occurred in Rome, twenty years after that first international flight. I was in Italy for the very first time, and as a naîve young music student, I managed to get my passport stolen before I had even laid eyes on the Colosseum! So I spent my first day in Rome at the American Embassy on the Via Veneto. I ducked into an automatic photo booth to get this photo for my temporary replacement passport. After the blinding flash, I staggered out and handed the picture to the Italian man behind the desk. He glanced at the photo, did a theatrical double-take, kissed his fingertips and exclaimed, “Ma che bella! È venuta bene, la foto, no?” I smiled and blushed. It was a very Italian moment.
My “Roman” passport served me well. I got it extended at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and filled it up with stamps (and student visas) from Austria, Italy, Spain, Japan, Russia and a host of other countries. But then before I went to Nepal and Thailand in 2009, I decided it was finally time for a new passport.
Just a couple of days ago, I discovered that my friend Mirva Lempiäinen (a world-traveling journalist who writes a fabulous travel blog for Finnair) is in the possession of a pink passport cover that reads “JET SETTING DIVA.” Seriously. Yeah, I gotta get one of those. Happy travels, everyone!