I’m haunted lately by a recurring dream after which I wake in a panic, heart pounding, sweaty, and often in tears. Details of the dreams vary from time to time, but there are always core elements which remain the same: I am on my way on a trip… there are problems with packing or the commute to the airport or something, such that I am worried I’ll miss my flight… I always manage to arrive in just enough time to catch the flight… only to discover as I encounter the TSA agent in the security queue that my passport expired THE DAY BEFORE MY TRIP. From there the dream deviates between fellow travelers who are frustrated at me, extreme disappointment at not being able to take the trip, anger by someone I’m supposed to meet ‘there’ (wherever ‘there’ is?), or being somehow granted ‘grace’ by the security personnel, without a game plan on how in the world I’m going to return. ACK!!
American sociologist David C. Pollock developed the following description for third culture kids: “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.” TCKs tend to have more in common with one another, regardless of nationality, than they do with non-TCKs from their passport country.
So what does it mean to dream that your passport has expired? That I’m feeling stuck?
I’ve felt troubled over the years with my 3-4 year itch: the restlessness I’ve felt upon spending just a few short years with any given group of people or in any given location. I’ve determined to fight this restlessness and make a home for myself. I’ve now lived through this 4 times during my 12 years of living in Chicago. I want a community; a place with some history; a place to call home. I’ve made an effort to make this home for me. I’ve turned down jobs in other cities and other countries, and settled into a church community. I’ve established long-term friendships, and allowed myself to have emotional ties.
So what does it mean that I keep dreaming about expired passports?
David C. Pollock’s description on TCK seems to fit well the the daughter of Nazarene missionaries. Passports grant access to and from, but they also provide protection for and against. Perhaps, in the midst of the on-going changes around you, making Chicago and your church community a place to call home, could you be experiencing the feeling of a loss of protection? Could this be signifying a(nother) period of grief for you?
Troy, that’s a great observation and I think right on target. There is risk in being mobile, but there is a whole other risk in putting down roots. Perhaps that’s what I’m experiencing. Thank you.