I pulled my car up to the border patrol booth slowly. My hand shook as I handed the agent my passport. I hoped he wouldn’t notice the moisture in the pages. I’d been gripping onto it in my lap since I’d hit the bridge. Always better to be prepared.

“Where are you headed?” Asked the burly man in dark sunglasses. He pushed them down the bridge of his nose and tilted his head to make eye contact.

I’d crossed the border into the United States a million times, but still, it always freaked me out. This was my first time doing it on my own. I tried my best to sound confident. “Jacksonville. Florida. For about two days and then Miami for another three.”

“That’s quite a drive,” he mused, looking over my shoulder now into my backseat. All he’d see were the cases of water my mom insisted I take. Gotta stay hydrated.

“Yeah, about 24 hours total,” I agreed. The solo road trip of a lifetime. I’d checked the maps over and over. An entire day driving. I’d do it in three separate spurts. Get plenty of rest, do some sightseeing. Keep active, keep busy.

“What’s the purpose of your trip?” He was examining my passport now. I just had to play it cool and soon I’d be on my way.

“Just a vacation.”

“On your own? Are you meeting someone there?” He passed my passport back through my window.

“No. I was planning on going with someone, but it didn’t work out.”

“So you’re going alone?” His inflection sounded a bit incredulous. I started to panic.

“I’ve had a pretty tough year.” I surprised myself venturing this information. I hadn’t planned to. It just kind of came out, with a crack in my voice at the end to vouch for my sincerity. Tough year was an understatement. But I was not about to have a breakdown at the border. I reminded myself that this was my independence trip. That this was my chance to do something really cool, on my own. I was a lone wolf. This is what I wanted. This is what I needed. I steadied my tone. “Thought it’d be nice to get away.”

“Alright,” he nodded, his face softening. “But can I just give you one piece of advice?”

“Sure,” I forced myself to smile. Between my mom and dad, who thought I’d completely flipped my lid driving across the continent on my own, I’d had my fill of well-intentioned advice. But a little more couldn’t hurt.

“Back your car up about two inches and veer right before you pull out, or else your bumper’s going to scrape the wall.”

I smiled and obliged, thankful for some useful advice for once. As I pulled through I called, “thank you!”

To which he nodded and replied, “and Miss, you’re going to be alright.”

And I was.

2016

41 thoughts on “The Border

  1. Glad the border agent treated you well! I’ve always felt intimidated by them and I’m a white US citizen. I’ve been harassed almost every time I’ve gone through a border. It’s not my favorite thing to do.

    Glad you had a good trip! Good on you for doing it on your own and stepping out of your comfort zone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I remember as a kid coming home from a family road trip coming back into Canada, being exhausted and having to leave the car and watching them search it, feeling like a tiny 7 year old criminal. It’s nice that it’s not always like that.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had my experience working closely with border patrol (albeit at the airport, not land). Some are intimidating and do abuse their power, but mostly, they’re just human beings who are doing their job, e.g. keeping borders safe and secured. Glad you made it through and had an enjoyable vacation!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have done the Canadian US border and the way you described the officer and the mannerisms early in were so bang on.

    Whenever I saw you liking a chapter of mine, I wondered who you were but never ventured to check. I’m glad I did today. Enjoying your stories… are they really? They are so life-like

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good for you. πŸ™‚ I spent 117 days on the road in 2005 trying to find myself. (I walked across to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for a few hours… back then they let me do it with just a driver’s license. That was the last time I’ve been out of the US, actually…)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 117 days!! Good for you, that must have been quite an experience, I’m impressed.

      I’ve done the walk over the bridge to the US at Niagara falls myself as a teenager. It’s a cool place.

      As always, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was quite an experience, although it’s unfortunate that it took a near-traumatic experience of being hurt by people very close to me to push me to do something like that. I’ve considered that whenever I’m finally done with DLTDGB, in 2026 or 2027 at the rate I’m going, maybe that experience will be the backstory for another episodic continuing story blog, although it wouldn’t nearly be as long.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I will definitely let you know. πŸ™‚ If you want to read the unfiltered honest version, I kept a blog during that trip, and it’s still up; let me know and I’ll send you the link. But it was written more as a way for my friends to keep up with where I was and what I was doing, not as a continuing story for people who didn’t know me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’d rather not post the link publicly, and I don’t see a link to email or anywhere I can message you privately… email me gregoryjdennison at gmail and I’ll send you the link.

        Like

  5. A great read. Love the narrative that is filled in with the conversation with yourself and the border patrol. I have crossed into the United States maybe a half a dozen times in my 62 years. Even though there is nothing to hide, it is always so nerve wracking.

    Liked by 2 people

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