I used to think I could grow up to be President of the United States. Not that I’ve ever really wanted to be the president but, you know, it’s nice to have options.
Then I turned 30, got engaged and found out I was ineligible.
You see, all my life I thought I was born on an Army base in Bamberg, Germany.
As a kid, my brother would try to make me mad by calling me a foreign import and telling me I could never be president. It didn’t work. My birthplace is pretty cool (I think) and an overseas U.S. military base still counts as U.S. soil, so I would have been eligible. You know, if I’d actually been born there.
Two years ago as I was preparing to marry my amazing now-husband, I went to my mom’s house to get a copy of my birth certificate so we could apply for a marriage license. Mom isn’t much of a storyteller and lots of questions tend to upset her, but on this day she was feeling particularly nostalgic and began telling Brendan details of my birth that I’d never heard before.
It was a snowy February night and the roads were icy when she went into labor. The village hospital was closest, so an ambulance took her off the base to the Fraulein Klinik, where she gave birth, terrified, amid doctors and nurses (and other laboring women, cursing their husbands) whose language she couldn’t understand.
“And that’s why you have dual citizenship,” Mom proudly announced.
“WHAT?!?” I exclaimed. “Why haven’t you ever told me this before?”
“What, you think everyone’s birth certificate is three pages?” she retorted.
Clearly, there’s a lot about my past that I don’t know.
We moved back to the States around my 2nd birthday, but not before I visited my first museum, met my grandparents, rode on the Autobahn and watched my brother earn a massive scar in a salt mine. I only know these things happened because I must have turned the pages of the photo albums hundreds of times as a child, trying to memorize all of those unremembered moments.
I want to see Neuschwanstein in person. I want to find the roadside where Papaw made a snowball in summertime. I want to walk the streets where my mother carried me in a Snugli.
I want to Dear Photograph as much of those first two years as possible.
Photo source: iwanttobehere.com