In my quest to gain dual Swedish-U.S. citizenship, I need to fill out a form. It is in fact an itsy-bitsy form, all things considered. I don't have to pledge allegiance to anything, reel off the names of Swedish kings or prime ministers, or even learn Swedish, for that matter. I simply have to fill out four pages of questions that ask what my name is, where and when I was born, what my parents' names are and where and when they were born, what the husband's name is and where and when he was born, when and where we were married, as well as where I work and for how long I've been working there.
Can this really be all that they want to know about me?
Ah, and they want to know when and where I've been outside of Sweden since I first arrived. There are only four spaces in which to put this information. Perhaps this is the trick. Because I need about 25 spaces.
My old passport was filled to the brim, with only three spaces left for new stamps before it expired.
I like the triangular stamps from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur and the jetty at Kuah on Langkawi (Passport control at the jetty at Kuah was like something out of a wartime Hollywood B-movie, unsavory officials in crisp uniforms standing behind ancient and flimsy wooden tables, groups of vaguely desperate looking families with trunks and satchels and oddly shaped packages tied with string, and me feeling like I'm trying to get to Thailand under false pretences when I'm doing no such thing, it's all just delicious melodrama.)
I like the round stamps from Panama, too (You had to pay 50 U.S. dollars to get out of the country there. And the police hated Americans, because we'd bombed police headquarters when we attacked Panama back in the early '80s.)
Then there are all the non-descript rectangular stamps: Dorval (The first time I went to Montreal, they told me I didn't need a passport, but there actually was a passport control when it was time to get back to the States, and they gave me hell for not having mine. So the next time I visited my good friend L., I brought my passport. Oh, and you have to pay to get out of Montreal, as well. Only 15 Canadian dollars, though, I seem to recall.)
Nickelsdorf (At the border between Austria and Hungary, the police scared the hell out of me as they passed through the train, snarling in German and me not understanding a thing.)
Casablanca. And Prague, Bologna, Nice, Barcelona, Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle (I wouldn't have half of these now: The great thing about Schengen is that you don't have to stand in line in passport control to get a stamp in your passport every time you fly within the borders of the Schengen countries. The bad thing about Schengen is that you don't have to stand in line in passport control to get a stamp in your passport every time you fly within the borders of the Schengen countries.)
And Arlanda and O'Hare, over and over and over again.
It will be strange to have a Swedish passport. But I guess it means that I will have even fewer stamps, in the long run. And I'll always have to choose which passport to use where.
The Swedish phrase for the day is det är dags. It means it's about time.
- by Francis S.