Today I went and had a passport picture taken.
Because the camera at our local post office has been out of order for years, we stopped by a nearby CVS drug store to complete the photo step of the passport renewal process. It was then that I realized what a difference 13 years makes in technology.
Last time I got my passport picture taken it was 1997. My husband and I had been married for 6 years and we were really excited to be taking a trip to London. I had never traveled out of the US and was in need of my first passport.
We went to a local photography studio to get the necessary pictures.
Before digital photography.
I distinctly remember that they were $20 and once taken they ‘magically’ appeared in 20 minutes…20 minutes was almost instant in 1997.
So, I posed in front of white background wearing my favorite plaid shirt buttoned up to the very top button (I can promise you that I was wearing it with my favorite pleated jeans and faux-crocodile ankle boots because I was hawt like that).
1, 2, 3….
I paid the $20 during the wait for the final product.
Meanwhile we basked in the bright light of 20 minute film development.
1997 was super modern.
The photographer handed me my photos in a cute little passport-like folder and I opened them up and gasped.
I couldn’t be seen in OTHER countries in a photo like that.
I was hideous.
The problem was that it was 1997. A re-take was $20 and 20 more minutes.
$20 and 20 more minutes that we didn’t have.
I swallowed my pride and decided it wasn’t that big of a deal. We went directly to the post office and applied for the passport. A month later when it arrived in the mail I cringed and vowed not to open it up unless asked by a uniformed agent.
It turns out that the London trip was the only trip in which a passport was needed over the following 13 years.
And so today, the CVS employee took my picture with her hand-held digital camera and turned it around to give me a look. I shook my head and said, “Can you please take another one?”
Just because it was digital.
Just because I could.
Just because I didn’t want to spend the next 13 years looking like this:
It really makes me wonder if the reason we didn’t travel in the last 13 years was embarrassment.