Life forensics

I used my expired passport to retrace my travels beginning in 2002.

Pages shown featuring entry and exit stamps from my first passport.
My first passport

Research for yesterday’s post was interesting. It’s not always easy remembering what took place decades ago. To get myself into the right frame of mind I looked for artifacts from that trip that I thought might jog my memory a bit. I was somewhat unsuccessful at first.

I have lots of photos from my 2003 stay in Israel. They were all shot with my first digital camera, a Nikon D100. But on the Birthright Israel trip I took a film camera, a Nikon N90 that I had borrowed from a college friend. 2002 was an interesting time photographically. Lots of professional photographers had made the switch to digital, but most non-professionals were still shooting film or trying out smaller compact digitals. For me, I packed up a brick of 35mm slide film, and I am now realizing that all those pictures are packed away in a bin somewhere deep inside a far away storage unit.

I don’t have many other digital relics from the trip either. I remember taking notes in a little black notebook I used to carry. The plane tickets were printed on paper and mailed to me just before the trip. I am sure all of this is also somewhere in storage.

The one item I did have handy was my old passport. I’ve had three passports throughout my life. There is my current one which expires in another year, my first one, pictured here, which I acquired right before the Birthright trip, and a third special journalist passport, which I requested for a trip to Lebanon that I never took. Fun fact, there was a mistake on that special passport which said I was born in 1946 instead of 76, which made it a fun item to share with friends when playing the “guess my age game” at bars.

Inside passport number one, I found the first couple of pages filled with entry and exit stamps from Ben Gurion Airport. I was able to piece together all the trips I made there by simply writing down the dates I found. (The nerd in me needs to let you now I put all these dates in iCal for future reference.)

Birthright Israel was my first international trip. To be honest, before writing this story, I was having a hard time remembering if it took place before or after 911. Getting the dates right was critical to my understanding of where I was in my life back then and how the events of 911 and the death of my grandfather colored the story I wanted to tell you.

As well as my Birthright Israel stamps, I also found the stamps that got me into Europe in October of 2002 and Israel when I flew from Rome to Tel Aviv in December, until I left in December of 2003. I also realized I made a third trip to Israel in early 2004. I was there for about a month in February before finally deciding to wrap it up and move back home for good. I totally forgot about that trip!

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