Friday, October 27, 2006

Crossing Over

Friday, October 13, 2006 ~ Port Huron, Michigan

As I drive across the Blue Water Bridge that links Port Huron, Michigan with Sarnia, Ontario, I listen to these song lyrics on my car's CD player:

There is a bridge that you can cross
On the other side is freedom

I don't know who's singing or even the name of the song. It was a compilation of unidentified inspirational songs gifted to me when I left Sedona in December 2004. And I play it whenever, in my travels, I cross a bridge of significance.

This is a bridge of significance.

I have not been in my native Canada since July 1997, when, on a similar if shorter journey, my car tugged me south out of Ontario and into Minnesota.

I never planned to leave and, having left, never expected to be gone for nearly a decade.

Now here I am, nervously approaching Canadian customs, still feeling some of the tugs of resistance I wrote about a few days ago in Revelation.

A few official questions, a glance at my passport, green card and license plate and I'm waved through.

Even as I struggle to reacquaint myself with kilometers and degrees Celsius, I feel a rush of emotion. I'm crying.

Is it a wave of affection for my long, lost homeland?

Or is it a realization that my homeland is no longer home?

In a paradoxical way, it's both.

Although I've never been to this part of Ontario, there's a longing for it to feel familiar, to resonate as home.

Instead, much has conspired to make this feel foreign.

My cell provider has me on a foreign calling plan. My credit/debit cards will be adding a 3% foreign-exchange charge to my Canadian transactions. My auto insurer insists I carry a foreign-travel insurance card.

Then there's the whole metric thing. I was pretty conversant with liters 'n meters when I crossed into the U.S. Now, it feels, well, foreign, as do Canadian banknotes, redesigned since I last saw one.

And although I've rarely been able to identify my own Canadian accent (obvious to any American when I utter a word ending in out), I now hear it all around me and it sounds, well, foreign.

So, what is "home"?

I've explored that word/concept at great depth during my two years of nonstop travel. I sense I'll be going even deeper with it during my time here.

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