The last time I looked at my passport was February 2020. I'd just returned to New York from Miami, where I'd read from Bobby in Naziland (since retitled A Brooklyn Memoir) at Books & Books in Coral Gables. I was about to start planning the European leg of my promotional tour—London, Paris, Madrid—and I wanted to make sure my passport was up to date. It was. It wouldn't expire for more than three years. Then a never-ending pandemic happened, a pandemic that created a need for the injection into my arm of six vaccines and boosters. (T.S. Eliot measured out his life with coffee spoons. I measure out mine with Covid shots.)
Somehow three years passed—years of fear, isolation, and death; years of sitting at my desk and trying to remain productive; years of wondering if it was ever going to end; years interspersed with illusory moments of hope; and years when foreign travel wasn't even worth thinking about.
Then yesterday something possessed me to look at my passport, not that I'm planning to leave the country in the immediate future. It was a little voice in my head telling me that such a thing could happen. So I dug it out, the booklet stamped with countries I'd been to in the past 10 years and with all kinds of foreign currency—euros, pounds, Mexican pesos, Argentine pesos, Dominican pesos—stored between its pages. It was expiring in one month. Not good!
I scrambled to renew it, downloading and filling out documents and running out at nine p.m. to get a passport photo taken, which I was able to do a block from my apartment. I looked at the old and new mug shots side by side. What a surprise to find myself older, grayer, saggier! I'm sure I'll look at the new photo in 10 years and marvel at my youthful appearance.
But what possessed me to dig out my passport? I'll venture a guess: On April 25 I saw Lucinda Williams at City Winery. It was the first indoor concert I'd attended since the pandemic. Ironically, it was with tickets my wife had bought three years ago, just before the pandemic began. The show, of course, had been cancelled, and in the interim Williams had had and recovered from a stroke. But she's now returned to life, and I guess I decided I would, too.
Lucinda Williams and friends, New York City, April 25, 2023.
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