As the car approaches the customs, I feel my body getting tense. My son is watching Max and Ruby on his portable DVD player. I tell my husband "I hope they dont make us go inside for once". The officer has dark skin. That is the first thing I notice. I think to myself "he is an immigrant too. He understands". That is a huge assumption to make but a hopeful one. He asks for our passports. Passports are passed to him through the little hole in the window. He asks where we are from. It says it right on the passport but they have to ask. We are originally from Iran and are Canadian citizens now. My mom, pointing to the back seat has a US green card. He asks a bunch of questions. What was she doing here? When was the last time we visited the US? What was the reason for the visit? How long did my mom stay with us?
He asks us to wait there. "You might not even have to go inside" says the officer. I feel like dancing. Yaaaay! for the first time we dont have to go through the Home Land Security shit. I was wrong. Another officer approaches. He tells us to get off. The other officer, the dark skinned one, says to him: they are Canadian citizens. They are not even going to spend the night in the US. They are just dropping their mom at Buffalo airport". He doesnt care. He asks us to get off. We do as he says. He asks for the car key. We are surrounded by 4 officers. It is a scary scene. My mom looks frightened. I should have told her to expect this. I unbuckle my son. He asks: where are we going mommy? Inside I say. He looks around. It is very windy. He says: but look mommy no one is leaving their cars pointing at the otehr cars. "It is very cold, I dont want to leave the car" he continues . "Why do we have to go inside"? I try to think. Should I be lying? He is three but a smart three year old. I look at my husband desperately. He is busy listening to the officer who is telling him to get on the elevator and go to the second floor. I tell my son that they need to see out passports to make sure that we are safe.
US border makes me angry. Very angry. They have a list of 50 some countries on the walls who are considered dangerous. The citizens or once citizens of those countries are subject to whatever the custom officers decide for them. They have to answer any and all questions and let them play their disgusting mind games.
Mind games you wonder? I can tell you stories... I was 5 months pregnant. We were going to LA to see our friends and my aunt. The flight was for 4:20 PM. It was before Obama. We had to wait and wait and wait. After 2 hours 45 minutes they call my husband's name. My back is soar. I keep walking in the room. I look at the clock on the wall. It shows 4:00. I think there is no way we can get to this flight. The officer who was interviewing my husband is gone and my husband is waiting there. I go to him and ask him what happened. He says the officer said the computer just froze and she has to re start it. I look at the monitor. The monitor is positioned somehow that we can easily see it. "it is not frozen" I say to my husband angrily. He says: hush! I point at the clock. He says to me "they do that on purpose". They do what on purpose? I ask. They want to see how you react under stress. Dont give them an excuse to kick us out and not let us in the US. He knows me too well to know that I am ready to explode any minute. He says quietly: "The time on the clock is not accurate. We still have an hour. They set it like this to stress us out". He asks me to control myself. They call me later. The officer tells me he knows my brother in law lives in Washington. He asks me if I know what he does. He is a computer programmer. Do I know where he works? No sir! There is no reason I should know where my brother in law works. How long has he been married to his wife? My angry side starts arguing with my Buddhist side. Should I tell him to fuck off or should I continue faking this stupid smile and answer all his absurd questions? I continue smiling with my hand on my very soar back. Has the marriage been arranged or were they dating before getting married he asks. I take a deep breath. I am not quite sure. They families were old friends so I guess they knew each other. But we are not going to see them in this trip. We are not going to Washington. In fact I have seen my brother in law only a few times. He says he knows in a very cold voice. They know everything. To prove it he said he knew I worked in a Hallmark store. Oh! that! I had forgotten about that. It was right when we had arrived in Canada. It gives me peace of mind to know that there are people who know everything about me in case I end up with dementia later and cant remember a damn thing from my past.
We go to the second floor. We wait there for half hour. The guy checks my husband's passport. Asks him how his name is pronounced and lets us go. Thanks to Obama the three to four hour wait is now down to almost half hour and the best part? No finger prints.
We drop my mom at the airport. My son cries. He asks "why does grandma have to go back? Why dont we go to Iran? Will she come back again"? I swallow my tears. I tell him that we will go to Iran one day. Then he gets to see Iran and his uncle. Grandma will come back very soon. I tell him I know he is very sad now but I promise he will feel better soon. My mom cries and looks away. My son cries. I have learned to swallow the pain.
We take him for an "elevator ride" hoping that he might feel better. he counts: 1 2 3. Look mommy! There is only three of us. We have to be four. Grandma is missing and he cries again.
We drive back. He falls asleep in the car. Once we cross the border my body is relax. I am home. I think to myself maybe by the time he is older I wont have to answer his questions with "because you are an Iranian my child". Maybe there will be no border, no religion, no countries. I laugh at myself. At my silly idealist self. We stop at Tim Hortons.We are home.