Ah, the joys of having an international family. A few short hours’ drive to my parents’ house takes me across the US border. I am terrified of the US border, due to a couple of experiences when I was younger, when my appearance led the agents to not want me in their country. At least that’s what I tell myself. My feelings would be hurt if it was something personal.

I have been called into the office to have my story checked out, suspicions about the amount of luggage I had in my car seeming to trigger a heightened response. I have been accused (in my early twenties) of not intending to return to Canada, that my intentions were to find a job and a boyfriend and be an illegal alien. That encounter required me to fill out a form detailing all of my identifying characteristics, piercings, tattoos, birthmarks, etc. The agent also flipped through my daytimer, pulling out business cards, asking who the people were, and those in the photos. I’ll admit, I cried. One refused me entry on the basis of not having enough cash on me, and not enough luggage, despite the letters I carried stating that I had family that would be responsible for me while in the US. I cried then too. (I was rather easily intimidated by authority figures…. heck, I still am.) Imagine my mixture of smugness and chagrin the following day when that same agent had to allow me entry because my amazing momma had called the head honcho and explained the situation. The lesson – drive your own vehicle when crossing the border.

More recently, I have had agents get into the back seat of my car – where I had tossed my clothes rather than packing them in a suitcase, and look through my trunk, which had become a rather frightening no man’s land of everything I carried out of my office but couldn’t be bothered to take into the house – almost empty gladware containers, fast food wrappers, etc. Ick. I warned him, but he bravely went where I wouldn’t.

The majority of my border crossings have been uneventful, merely a perfunctory “Where are you coming from? Where are you headed? How long will you be staying?” Generally I have been treated well, and have had rather pleasant experiences crossing the border. Some of the agents have even been cute enough to flirt with, and had charming smiles as they remained professional.

The last couple of trips I have crossed at a different point of entry, because the drive down is so beautiful from there. Yesterday, I had an almost amusing encounter with a youngish agent who either had a quirky sense of humour, or… Well, I can’t explain it otherwise.

I handed him my passport.

Agent: Where are you coming from?

Me: (the first couple of syllables of the city I used to live in) erm, I mean (actual city).

A: Do you have your driver’s license?

Me: Yes (hands it over)

A: Where are you headed?

Me: (Mom’s town)

A: What are you doing there?

Me: Visiting cousins.

A: How are they your cousins?

Me: … My mom’s brother married an American…

A: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

Me: …

A: What do you do in (my town)?

Me: I’m on disability.

A: What happened?

Me: Stress leave.

A: Please roll down your back window. You got a cat or a dog in there?

Me: Dog.

A: You have rabies papers for the dog?

Me: (hands them over)

A: He’s a Chi- hoowah-hoowah?

Me: Jack Russel cross.

A: He’s awful quiet for a Chihuahau/Jack Russel.

Me: Yessir.

A: How long you going to be in the US?

Me: Until the 22nd.

A: (hands back my documents) Have fun.

It took me a moment to realize that he was letting me pass. I wonder if he gets bored at that crossing, which is less busy in the off-season then in the height of summer. Maybe if my instinct wasn’t to be nervous as all get-out, I could have actually had fun with him. He seemed like a totally decent guy, but his demeanor caught me completely off-guard.

Coming down through the breath-taking landscape and the sheer beauty of the surroundings I find myself in every time I come down here, I quickly lost the inclination to dwell on the encounter. I spent the drive thanking God for the wonder of His creation, for the chance  had to view it and take it in, and for the herbal remedy that kept my wee beast from panicking the entire trip down. Every time I come here, I look out the windows and see the scenery that played such a major part in my childhood, that surrounded trips to visit my grandma, and that makes me feel truly at home.

It’s heart-wrenching, to know where my home is, where I long to be more than anywhere else, and to not be able to live here. I have to remind myself to be grateful for the chances I have to visit here, and to not feel like an Israelite who has crossed the Jordan and must now return to wander the desert.

Well, that took a turn for the melancholy. Yay me!


~ by Trillian on 04/12/2011.

2 Responses to “Travelling”

  1. Trillian, you know you’re always welcome in the States.

    • Thanks, DaddyBear! I’m sure that you and the rest of the nuts could convince the customs agents to let me through every time! xoxo

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