Immigration as Romance: Gauging my Intentions

Friday, January 6, 2012

Going through passport control in Halifax feels more and more like I'm presenting myself in my tuxedo before my prom date's father. I began to think this some eight or ten months ago when a border control agent looked at my work permit and said these words, "So what are your intentions, when this expires?". He narrowed his eyes at me. "Um," I said, "I love it here. I'd like to stay, if I can." His face assumed an expression I had previously associated with unhungry cats; he all but purred. "Good, that's what I like to hear."

This time, when I crossed the border, I had a lovely chat with the border agent about how she always thought she would become an English teacher, and she didn't know how she ended up where she was.

She glanced at my work permit. "This expires soon, you know." "I know," I said with warmth, "I've just been renewed, so now I have some paperwork to do." "How long have you been here?" she asked. "Let's see, two and a half years now." She gave me a look that I'd always assumed was related to near-strangers' advice about the social imperative of marriage (a "you've had your fun, some day you have to grow up and adhere to convention" look), and then she said these words with expectant subtext, looking up at me through her lashes in a manner that was too firm too be coy: "Another few years and you'll have some *choices* to make."

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