“I don’t belong here,” I heard in my head as I entered the Hamilton Public Library in Ontario, Canada. I’ve been in this space before, a half dozen times, at least. But this time it is different. I am here to work on my one woman show I will perform in two and a half months in New York’s Capital Region. I will be living in Canada during those months, which is different from visiting it. On the border yesterday, I giggled nervously, as a guard said he suspected my friend I would be staying with was more than a friend. The laugh was not taken well: he threatened to refuse my entry and make me go back to the US with my passport flagged, unless I was straight with him. The situation was surreal; Canada was our friendly neighbor to the North, right? But I knew he could do what he said, so I politely told him the relationship was complicated – that we used to be romantically linked, but now had moved on and were just friends. Whether it was the words or the manner in which I delivered them, his demeanor changed slightly and hearing the clunk of the stamp in my passport was a relief.
I was actually nervous about crossing the border with all my worldly goods in my car, at the mercy of the border guards. This plan of mine was crazy! People just don’t up and move to another country willy-nilly! But alas, I am not “people.” Something inside me told me this is what I wanted to do, needed to do. So, here I am. In the awkward beginning stage of living in another country, knowing no one, or practically no one, and yet wanting to recognize people – “Hey! That guy sitting at that group table is Kevin, isn’t it?” Nope. I’m on my own here. But I’ll make it through. This is my journey. To become comfortable no matter where I am, with myself and with the world at large. To learn other ways of thinking and doing and being. Canada seems like a good place to start – probably the most like the USA, although they don’t wanna admit it. Hey, we share the same country code and 911 is the emergency number here as well. This weekend is a holiday weekend just like in the States…However, I had learned from living in a different part of the US from where I grew up, that differences might be subtle, and harder to uncover, but they are there! And it’s okay to be a stranger. Especially if a stranger is just a friend you have yet to have met! 🙂