It has been a running joke in the family that our world travelling cats always had more privileges than I did as a Filipino citizen. You see, the cats were EU passport holders, with their bright blue documents and golden EU stars plastered all over the front. I was absolutely horrified the first time our Berliner cat Molly was issued one in 2006, and supremely humiliated when I found out she could enter far more countries than I could, well pending quarantine restrictions of course, but still.
Today I took what seemed like another trip across Germany but it was really just from one end of Berlin to another, a subway journey that just seemed to stretch on and on. Filing for a national identification card (Personalausweis) and a passport can be done in any city hall around Berlin and you are not restricted to the zone you live in, which means you can get an appointment quickly if you don’t mind travelling the distances. Much as I wanted to support my local city hall, there was nothing free until November, so I crossed several zoning lines into a part of Berlin I have been to. The city hall of Berlin Pankow is old and drab, and when you walk through the old squeaky doors you can almost see all the ghosts floating around, very much like a scene from The Sixth Sense. I had to bite my tongue not to blurt out “I see dead people”… Don’t let appearances fool you though, the people who work here are actually friendly and have an old Berlin sense of humour, which made it an actual a joy to sit and watch my papers being processed. By the time I walked out of city hall, I was in proud possession of my temporary national ID card, and can pick up the final one together with my new passport in a couple of weeks. Whew! What an achievement, and what a relief!
On the long ride home I couldn’t help but giggle at the fact that I finally caught up with the cats, and we are all EU document holders now, AND no matter where we travel to, we all end up in quarantine anyway. My philosophy professor would not hesitate to categorise this as a case of occult compensation. Not that the cats and I are currently in any condition to travel to begin with, nor do we have any intention of doing so in the near future either, unless it is to the next forest to chase the last butterflies of the season. But grandmother Lolita prefers to faceplant in her pillows these days, and I don’t blame her.