Out to Lunch With My Passport

The Facebook post was simple. It was on my brother Stan’s page tagged with all his siblings:


Stan Brown
May 9
Ed, Stan, Tom and Dan are currently abroad. Marilyn? — with Ed Brown and 3 others.
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Marilyn Gardner I hate all of you and now I’m going to go bite my pillow and give in to my state of bright, green tck envy.


Many of you readers know what I’m talking about. If you’ve been raised overseas and you find out all your siblings are overseas and you are not, you feel life is unfair. It’s not right. You too belong in Kazakhstan and Pakistan, Kenya and Turkey. You too should be enjoying the jet lag, the airline travel, the missed connections, the food, the chaos, the crowds, the miscommunication, the laughter, the food, the relationships, the cultural missteps, the time difference – oh and did I mention the food? 

What do you do when you are assaulted with this childish jealousy? I wrote a post some time ago where I go into detail on this ugly, green envy but this time I felt like I had grown exponentially.

Because this time it was funny. I could laugh. Despite the seemingly childish response by me on Facebook, I really did not begrudge them these trips. This, my friends, is a miracle. And I began to do a bit of self reflection, self analysis if you will. I realized that while I still long (and pray) for another opportunity to live overseas, I no longer go into a depression when others who I love get to do this.

Maybe I’ve grown up. Maybe I realize no one can take away my past – it’s a unique stamp on my life and colors my now with memories and understanding that can be used in our multicultural communities. Maybe I’m at a place of peace internally that cannot be dictated by where I live….I’m not sure of the reasons. But this I do know – I could laugh about it and banter over social media.

But I had to one-up them – perhaps not through travel, but certainly through wit and words. They are, after all, my siblings.


So at the suggestion of my husband, I decided to go to lunch with my passport. Because my passport doesn’t just say where I’m from, it tells me where I’ve been. It has those precious stamps from Egypt and Pakistan, Istanbul and Mexico, St. Maarten and London. The passport is the identity card of the third culture kid; the stamp of belonging that tells the world we’re a bit from everywhere and a bit from nowhere. The legal document that tells a story of a life lived between worlds.

What better lunch companion then my passport? What better place to eat than a Pakistani restaurant where chapatis and curry take me miles away?

So next time you feel those waves of envy come over you and you want a humorous response – take your passport out to lunch. 

16 thoughts on “Out to Lunch With My Passport

  1. Hi from Tanzania….

    [Sorry, just couldn’t resist…!!!]

    …where I’m staying for a few days with a family w/3 kids, a dog, a kitten, no electricity, water comes up from the brook at the bottom of the hill in a bucket, showers are… let’s just say I’m reviving some *very* old flexibility skills.

    The surprise is that after 6 decades I can still do it. The other surprise is that you *can* live like this and still enjoy life. Maybe that’s what pulls all of us – a desire to get back to where life is real because it isn’t easy and automatic. And maybe that’s what makes it fun.

    I’m sure you and your passport have many, many more journeys ahead of you!


    [One of the brothers maligned in this post… :) ]


  2. “Do you mean you are renewing your passport? You’re 80 years old.” Yes, we were asked this about 2 years ago. Well, we renewed our passports and we went to Mongolia for 5 weeks. It’s good for 10 years and who knows, hopefully we’ll get to use it again! Why, I just might take it with me next time we eat at an ethnic restaurant – a novel idea, Marilyn.


  3. I’m definitely dining out on this one Marilyn – that is, me and my passport! Absolutely love this post – especially your phrase “no one can take away my past – it’s a unique stamp on my life and colors my now…” So perfect. James and I were just cleaning out our files and stumbled across all our old passports -10 to be exact! So we’ve been having a wonderful stroll through past lives. Have a great “lunch.” All the best, Terri


    1. Love love love that you have had 10 passports! Please do a post on that! Those passports tell the stories of your life of travel together. Or can you do a guest post for me? Let’s talk….!


  4. My passport mocks me…I’m not sure she makes a great lunch companion….but I did smile when I read your exchange on facebook. Unlike you, I have not grown up… My brother has been in the UK and in Russia in the last two weeks and I’m insanely green.


    1. Robynn – I talk boldly in the blog, and then I’m asked to live out my bold words in real life. And that’s where my hypocrisy threatens to undo me…..We’ll talk :)


  5. That envy can even hit the Third Culture Adult (TCAs – how about us?). When we first came back from Pakistan to retire, it hit me whenever we met someone coming in on an international flight. And we did travel during our first 10 years back here – to Egypt, to Turkey, to Pakistan, of course, and to Kazakhstan. The last time was in 1997. And now, I would love to see Stan’s apple orchards in Kazakhstan, Ed’s Care of Creation projects in Kenya, visit Dan and Carol in Istanbul, or go along with Tom on his trip to Pakistan. But our traveling days are over and they don’t need Mom and Dad. Our job is done except to follow them in our prayers. But I couldn’t help it – I did tell Tom as he was about to leave, “Don’t forget your passport!”


    1. I get this mom! I remember thinking about you sometimes in 8-acre woods after all those years in Pakistan. Content yet still that travel in your blood! Thanks for following all of us with your prayers – I still have a dream of going to Pakistan one more time with you……


  6. Marilyn,

    Love reading this blog, only because I kind of grew up in the opposite direction, never wanting to leave my podunk town in Ohio. Since then, I have unwittingly traveled the world and am still traveling it. I too can now confess a strange affinity with my passport, although we are not quite as close as you and yours, I think.


    1. I would never have guessed that you lived in a small town in Ohio….! I guess because I met you as one who already has an affinity with that blue legal document with all the stamps in it! It gets in your blood does it not? I don’t know if you ever saw the film “While You Were Sleeping” with Sandra Bullock but a theme throughout is that she has this longing to travel and so has a current passport despite the fact she’s never left Chicago. Love the whole idea of that and have decided I will always have a current passport ‘just in case’.


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