I don’t know why I haven’t updated in a while. Sometimes I’m not sure whether I should talk about my own experiences in London or muse over what I see happen. I guess this post will combine the two, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

Those little cards, drivers licenses, tickets, visas, any ids, they seem so small. They are literally tiny and made of plastic, its almost like you can make it yourself. Its so anticlimactic because one card makes such a big difference in everything. Even those paper ticket stubs are so important.

I’ve run into so many problems this term because I’ve misplaced my ID cards. I was supposed to visit India over spring break because my uncle was getting married and my grandfather has cancer, but my visa was in my old and expired and passport and when my dad sent it to me over mail, I accidentally threw it away.

Its so ridiculous, so serendipitous, so meaningless that I want to cry. There’s no good reason it had to happen this way, but the permanent lack of that visa completely changes my relationship with my family in India. It means that they won’t have seen me through my formative college years. It means that I am more disconnected to them.

Barclays rejected my application for a opening the simplest bank account, which I had to do because mobile contracts are cheaper than pay as you go but only available to people who can prove they have money in UK bank account, because they didnt see an issue date on my drivers license. ITS THERE. It must have meant that the person who went my app from the Barclays branch in Hampstead screwed up. One minute and meaningless mistake.

To enter the reading rooms in the British Library, you need to apply for a reading room card. In filling out my form, I accidentally put mrs instead of miss, so the guy at the desk thinks I’m a child bride or something. He gave me weird looks at any rate. One day, my id card accidently fell out of my bag outside my door. I didn’t realize it until I had gone to the library, and I spent several hours making the trip back to Hampstead to retrieve it.

You never realize the importance of these identity cards until you start having problems. I always hold my breath when I’m in the security lines at the airport, but I’ve traveled so much and it’s been okay every time, except now.

All this anxiety from this drama is stored in this cheaply made plastic card. Small and undramatic. As boring as it gets. I wouldn’t mind if it could contain a visualization of all the problem it creates, if it could dramatize its own importance. Its own seeming insignificance makes a mockery out of me. I have so many ID cards now as if I am different people. I am a credit card holder, I am a Swarthmore student, I am a KCL student, I am a researcher at the British Library, I was a visitor at St. Christopher’s Inn in Bath, I am a student who uses the transport in London a lot and has a picture Oyster Card, I am a driver in the state of Michigan. I am somehow each of these things separately. Its funny because each id has a different picture and I look different in each of them. In one, I have glasses and in another I have contacts and semi-curly hair.

Its reassurance that I’m a good person, that I abide by the rules. Which I do strenuously. Which is why I screamed expletives in the courtyard of the Indian Embassy when they wouldn’t even let me in because I didn’t have the appropriate forms to discuss my visa problems. Without those IDs, I’m suspicious.

As a student of literature, of peoples stories, I’ve heard this story again and again. But it’s never happen to me before and the frustration and anger I felt can only be a fraction of what so many other people must have felt. I’ve never had my claims to my identity, questioned before. It is such a privilege. (Especially to be an American citizen, which is an automatic green light for so much.) I am so thankful.

Advertisements