The quest for a passport
I am going to the US of A
, yes I am. I have the plane ticket in my hand (well, I haven't, since it was purchased via Travelocity, but you get the general idea). I cannot remember the last time I was this excited - if ever (um, I probably ought to mention something about becoming a mother
and stuff like that, but that was so many years ago, and anyway I was so young, and... never mind).
But, before I will be able to go anywhere I need a passport. I have never travelled much; being a single parent means that just about every penny you make gets stuffed into those greedy little brats who call you Mom. So I haven't needed a passport for years and years.
Normally, in Denmark you just grab your different IDs and head for one of the passport-issuing police stations. Badabing badaboom, and you have your passport. Well... I couldn't do that. I am not a Danish citizen. I am Finnish.
"Ah", you think, "she'll need to go to the Finnish Embassy." Yes, my friend, that is exactly what I need to do. Only... I needed to bring with me my old passport, which I can't find.
Not so good
I emailed the Finnish embassy to ask what I should do, now that I didn't have my old passport. They said to bring my orginal birth certificate, and a police report on one missing passport. "Great", I thought. "I can do that". And this is where it gets really annoying and stressful: because I could not find my birth certificate.
I know what you are thinking now. "Well, if she's that careless with her important personal papers, she bleedin' well doesn't deserve to go anywhere!" That may be so, but on the other hand I am rather fond of me, and I can always make up excuses for my deplorable lack of tidyness, and I have been moving around quite a bit these last few years, and most of my stuff is still stored in boxes since I haven't really needed to get it out, and... some more excuses that I will undoubtedly fabricate should need arise.
Once again I approached the embassy to check for loopholes. Once again I was told that I did indeed need a birth certificate, and, in addition to that, my Finnish ID. That really freaked me out. I don't have, have never had, and will in all probability never have a Finnish ID apart from the passport - which is what I am trying to obtain. If my apartment had not been so small I would have been running through the rooms screaming. But as it is a bit on the small side, I just sat in my chair and rocked frantically to and fro (no, it's not a rocking chair, and yes, all the screws will most likely need to be tightened now, lest it falls apart), whining about how unfair and unreasonable the whole thing was.
After a few minutes of this I decided I was getting nowhere, and got proactive.
Now to get a birth certificate - or a copy thereof - I needed to contact the Swedish authorities in Stockholm, where I was born so long ago. Well... that was not easy. My call was being tossed around between offices where uninterested employees did their best to do nothing helpful at all - except press the button on their phone that would send the call along to the next office. In the end I just hung up on a pretty irritated clerk who kept trying to explain that he really needed my cpr number (the Swedish one) if I wanted to get a birth certificate. I had told him a number of times I did not infact have a Swedish number since I moved to Denmark 39 years ago. In the end I just slammed the receiver down before my temper made me say things my mom hadn't taught me to say. Well... actively taught me, anyway.
Some investigation on the internet made me realize that I should contact the Tax Department (Skatteverket) in Stockholm. So I wrote them an email , explaining the whole conundrum. They wrote back and asked if I could tell them my cpr number, and could I please provide them with an adress to which they could send a copy of whatever information they had on me. Not a birth certificate, just a couple of lines to say that I had indeed been born, and had moved away, many, many moons ago. Oh, dear. I told them: "No, I don't know my number, but hey, here's my adress anyway". I was coming to a point where I didn't really care if they sent me my own papers, or just the papers on some other person by the same name.
My SO was quite unsympathetic. "Go down to the basement and look through your boxes", he said. "Your passport has got to be down there, somewhere".
Ah, yes... The basement. Where we have a small storage space (10' by 6.5' or less), absolutely crammed full of my boxes containing stuff I haven't set eyes on in at least a year, and probably will never need again. There are boxes with papers, kitchen gear, odds and ends, memorabilia, clothes... All stacked on top of each other, wobbling threateningly as soon as the door is opened.
What I was after was, of course, the boxes with papers. I kinda, sorta knew that I stood the best chance with the three boxes in the back of the storage space (I didn't actually know there were three boxes; I thought there were only two. The third box contained clothes that I was certain had been lost along the way. Yay...).
Climbing over the boxes would be idiotic, but I am not neccessarily known for my rational and sensible approach to solving problems. And the boxes were sturdy enough, most of them, so I made it to the back of the room with only minor mishaps. The box I was after was almost accessible, so I tried to just like shift it around a little. I got the flaps open and peered inside. Papers, and lots of them.
Lying more or less on my stomach across one box while balancing on my left big toe on the corner of another box, I rifled through the contents of the box. There were a lot of interesting papers in there... but, no, not the passport (or the birth certificate, which by all accounts ought to be down there too). To add insult to injury my toe slipped, and the movement caused the neighbouring pile of boxes to wobble, tipping a small coffee table down onto my head. Nothing serious, and nothing a wipe down with a cloth won't take care of (the table, that is).
In the end I collected all my different Danish IDs, like driver's license, social security card, and whatever plastic cards I have - plus the slip of paper I got from Skatteverket in Stockholm - and ventured forth to the Finnish Embassy. Police report and ugly passport snapshot pictures would have to wait until I knew for sure whether or not what I had would be enough.
The nice lady behind the bullet proof glass took one look at my slip of paper. It said that I had been born on April 1, 1959, and that I did no longer live in Sweden. That was it! Nothing more. I was so certain that she would shake her head and kindly inform me that I would be stuck in Denmark to my dying day.
"That's fine", she said, smiling. "They changed the rules four days ago, so this will do fine".
Yay, hooray. I am totally in the clear. Today I'm going back to the embassy with all the papers I need, and I'll get my passport in time for my trip. I hope to be attending some after-hike fun on October 14 and I will be in Adams Morgan. And I am looking so much forward to it!
Oh, and I eventually got the forgotten box of clothes out of storage, and none of the clothes fit any longer. I think they may have shrunk because of the damp cellar.