At the end of December I received this, an Irish passport. If you have at least one grandparent born in Ireland you can apply for Irish citizenship which I did many years ago but just applied for the passport in 2016. The cost of the passport which had seemed too much to spend for no apparent reason, now seemed minor compared to a feeling of not being trapped and of honoring my dual citizenship. I’d have even more if I could.

A passport means you belong somewhere, you can travel and come back. It is the ultimate form of ID. I got my first passport in 1971 just before I left for an unforgettable, summer trip with my parents to Ireland and England. Later that summer after I had returned to the US I went to the neighborhood liquor store on my 21st birthday to purchase my first bottle of alcohol (really!) and they would never have believed me if I hadn’t brought my passport. I felt like I was carrying around proof of my integrity.

My Irish passport means I cried when I saw the delivery van pull up in front of the house. I am trying to decide if I should frame it and put it up on the wall like an art treasure. It means I have roots in Ireland, a country I love, could move to. Get a job. At the same time, looking at my Irish passport I can see the faces of my immigrant ancestors who sailed into the New York harbor looking for work and to resettle in the US. Of course, I stand with the immigrants of today wholly.

I also have a recurring dream and have since I can remember. In the dream I am about to board a plane, or on a ship or just arriving at a terminal and realize that I have forgotten my passport. I feel immensely sad every time, like I have lost the opportunity to enter the gates of heaven.

Passports say to me that you are a traveler, you take chances in order to broaden your horizon, you want to step into a bigger room, nourish your mind and creativity, you want to open your eyes and heart. Life is an exquisite adventure and it takes a lot of strength, humor and love to explore it. Passports let me explore and find home.


Mab Nulty