When I was reading about turning in my Green Card all the websites claimed that I would be "surrendering" the stupid piece of plastic (which isn't even really green). I imagined walking through security waving a little white handkerchief in surrender, and the guard would pat me on the shoulder in a consolatory way and say "there, there, it had to be done." While I knew it wouldn't go quite like that, I figured "surrendering" my permanent residency was better than being stripped of it at an airport when I have someplace to be. It was a conscious choice; a difficult choice, mind you, but it was my way of choosing to end my relationship with the U.S. on my own terms.
It was a bit surprising then, when I got to the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver, and I was whisked past a line-up of people that extended out the door. My bag was unceremoniously shoved at my friend Samantha, and a security guard escorted me up to the 20th floor of this windowless building. Sitting in the waiting room the people around me were sleeping, complaining about their level of hunger, and checking their watches every two minutes. I overheard someone say they'd been waiting for three hours. I waited about one minute before I was handed the form I needed to fill out, and after that waited basically only as long as it took me to fill out the form, before I was asked to speak to an official. All those people waiting for hours, and probably years, and I walked in and out of the building in under 30 minutes.
The form threw me off. I knew when the moment came that I would hesitate. I considered getting up and leaving. I read it three times before I actually began to write my name in, and each time I stumbled over the word "ABANDONMENT" in bold caps beside a little check-box. So I'm ABANDONING my home?? To SURRENDER sounded so much easier; if I'm surrendering I'm just saving myself from pain and defeat, but if I'm ABANDONING this... this... THING, it's like the whole American part of my life is contained in this little piece of plastic and I'm handing it over to these people because I just can't take care of it anymore, or I don't want it to be a part of me anymore. Abandonment. Fucking abandonment. And then they shooed me in and out like they couldn't wait to see the back of me. It was like a bad break-up, where you want to explain everything but all the other person hears is that they're being abandoned and so they throw you out before you can hurt them anymore. My inner child, the one that grew up in the southern U.S., is confused as hell right now, because I just walked into that building and fucking abandoned her there. Just like that. Fucking abandonment. That's horrible.
I rode down in the elevator by myself, no security to see me out. It was disorienting because I was confused about the whole abandonment thing when I went in with the intention of surrendering, plus the elevator took me down at the other side of the building. I found Sam and hugged her because I just needed some sort of warmth, after that cold-hearted act. I hugged her and then we went our separate ways home.
The bus stop was empty, and when I sat down I noticed some graffiti at my feet- big white block letters spelling out my very desire: PLEASE TAKE ME HOME. The bus came and brought me back to our apartment on the beach, and now I'm waiting for Luke to get here, so his presence will in fact, take me home.
I'm not an alien anymore. I'm all yours.