I flew to Vancouver on January 18th, and haven’t blogged since. I pushed out [two nine] to share music, and thank heavens because it’s been my primary means of connection these last two weeks.
The flight to Vancouver is a long one…I still haven’t taken it direct from Chicago so it really amounts to about six or seven hours in the air. That’s two long naps or a short book, and thankfully it hasn’t meant a painfully long conversation with an overzealous stranger.
When I arrived I was admittedly nervous. Looking back, some of the difficulties I’m about to share could have been avoided, but it’s not every day you pick up and move to a foreign country. It’s not every day you call Canada a foreign country, either, but that is in fact what it is.
I guess I should take a second; if you have no idea why I was moving my rear end to Vancouver, you can snag some background on that here. It involves food and ninjas.
Anyway, I walk off the plane and I’m presupposing the conversation I’m about to have with the customs officer. You know how it is…you know they’ll ask you three questions and one will be specific and generally that’s it. Why are you here? Who’re you visiting? When are you going home? Have you ever been in love?
Thing is, I didn’t know how to play the fact that I was hoping to work (and stay) here. It all felt disingenuous, since I felt as if I needed to keep the work thing on the down low, along with the part where I might not leave. Throw in the heightened security surrounding Olympic Games and I already had myself psyched out.
So you can imagine how the conversation went.
“When do you fly home?” “Not sure yet…it’s an open ended trip.”
The quizzical look on his face pretty much sealed the deal. I was smuggling drugs.
So if you’re wondering what happens to drug dealers, read on.
They let you into baggage claim, thinking things are good. Little do you know you’ve got a code on your claim ticket that says, “put this man into custody and interrogate him until later this evening”.
Which is what they did.
I almost don’t want to revisit it.
They wanted history on me, my family, and my friends. They wanted addresses. They took my work history, asked me if I was heterosexual, and walked into the back room over and over again for half hour dig sessions. The questions got hairy when they came back from the report that Google had provided, which included this blog, my twitter feed, LinkedIn, Facebook, and FriendFeed profiles. I immediate regretted this post, and half of the day’s twitter feed. My LinkedIn profile was a dead giveaway. Super.
Four hours later, after reciting my entire life story, including phone numbers for people in three different cities, I was handed a provisional, two-week, visitors visa that upon expiration was to result in my arrest if I had so much as a pinky toe on Canadian soil come February.
Locals claimed that they wouldn’t enforce such nonsense, which I felt might be advice I’d regret taking once I’d landed in a jail cell. I opted for the ‘let’s get me a work visa before I’m illegal’ route. Or I wanted that to be the plan, until the government denied my application, and I found myself looking February dead in the eye.
[to be continued]
Photo by Patrick Doheny.