It’s 1:04 AM now, that means I have 32 more days until I leave, 38 days until I go under the knife. Today, I got my Passport back from the State Dept. So far, with each step, there has been a small piece that has brought home the reality of the fact that THIS IS HAPPENING. I just had my new passport in my hands. The gilded gold on the cover, the surprisingly firm cover and the texture of it all combine to give me a message. They say “You, my friend, are going on a journey to a strange place. I am your I.D. and your protection.” That’s funny, it doesn’t LOOK like armor.
I remember history classes in college. One of the facts I had learned about early on was the value of Roman citizenship. A Roman citizen could walk the earth without fear of molestation, with the assured knowledge that violence done upon him would be visited upon the infidel like the hand of the gods. In all the world, the only nationality that enjoys nearly as much prestige is United States citizenship. We do not carry breastplates, helmets or shields. My passport is my shield. Many of the countries on this planet hate us with a burning passion, but one thing is sure: Those who hate us, who protest us and burn our flag fear us to their very core. I do not place a value judgment on this fact, I merely relate it as a truth of the world we live in.
One of the first things I will do upon entering the country is to check in with the American embassy. American soil in another country. The concept has always struck me as a bit odd. One small cameo in the film I’m watching right now has brought that little bit of strangeness home to me in a very interesting way. Right now, I’m watching “The Last King of Scotland.” Among the fine company of actors, I readily identified Roman Polanski in the cast. After the vision of Mr. Polanski cutting off Jack Nicholson’s nose in “Chinatown” and the Manson horror, the next thing that came to mind was his flight from prosecution after his arrest on a statutory rape charge. He hasn’t been back since. With this memory came the remembrance of a story that took place a few years ago. Polanski was attending a party at the American embassy and was taken aside and told by an embassy employee that since he had never stood against the allegations against him, perhaps as discretion being the better part of valor he should leave, lest he should be arrested at the embassy, which, after all, is American soil.
Presently I am yawning as though I’m in a contest, so I’ll wrap it up with lyrics from the musical Chess: “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster.” Sleep tight, everyone.
Holler at your girl.