Flying from Washington DC to Toronto Ontario, I crossed the border somewhere in the air. It was dark outside of my porthole. I wanted to look out and see when I crossed over. See a bold black line delineating the border.
When the wheels touched the ground in Canada I thought I would feel something. Maybe start to cry, feel some loss, some gain. I looked out the window to see if I saw anything that looked Canadian. There was a Canadian Red Maple Leaf on the tail of the Air Canada plane. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t cry. Maybe I will become a United States citizen this year. I will get a United States passport. I will take the oath of allegiance.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.
I don’t think I will cry when I am pass through customs.
I am handed a customs form by the airline stewardess. Name, address. When did you leave Canada? I am confused by the question. Was it three years ago when I was in Canada last to visit my mother. I write down that date. No,wait. I was only visiting. I last lived in Canada in 1983. I left on November 2, of that year. Silly me.
I didn’t know I was leaving. I just haven’t moved back. I don’t think I will cry.
We are the only airplane going through customs at eleven at night in Toronto Ontario. There are a half-dozen people in front of me. The rest of the fast walkers from our meandering group on the United flight from The United States Of America. The country that I am a permanent resident of. The people in front of me are all directed to the agents to the right. Serious looking balding men. I am directed to the pleasant-looking agent to my left with a full head of dark curly hair. The person who could keep me out. He reads my customs form and asks me. “So you are home for four days?’
The word floats in the air. The letters fall apart.
I nod my head. I can not talk. My chin quivers and tears spill out of my eyes. He hands me back my Canadian passport, and I breathe, “It has been a long time.”
And then I know.
I will not absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance to Canada.
I will renew my Canadian Passport.
This is my country.
I am breathing Canadian Air.