My eyes couldn’t stop weeping while my body was still shaking with anxiety. I didn’t want to go - how did it end up like this? A 20 years old girl trying to cross the border with her best friend to go explore Portland then spend the summer in California to surf, is it really supposed to be a weird thing? It is not like I was the only one, everybody does that all the time. They take their bags, they collect the little money they have, they grab their boards and jump on a plane for a new adventure that involves salt water.
We took the bus at 6 am with only 30 minutes of rest in our body. She was excited. I was stressed. Stressed about leaving again, like I always do. As much as I love travelling, goodbyes still hurt every time. I was stressed about being back in the water. I was stressed for my internship.
She fell asleep, and I stayed awake, watching the bus drives further and further from Vancouver towards something new.
Slowly opening up our eyes, we realized we were at the border already.
She went her way while I went to talk to an officer. After being asked some questions, he asked me if I had a cell phone, which obviously I did. He took it with my passport and told me to sit and wait.
I didn’t know what the hell was going on, either if I was in trouble. I didn’t know if he had the right to take something I owned like that, but as most people, I am not aware of my rights as a human being, so I simply sat and wished for the best.
The bus driver looked at me impatiently while my best friend sat at the end of the room, expecting me to come with her.
“She will take the next bus”, a different officer told the driver.
And they left. Just like that, I was stuck at the border of the United States with no ideas of what was going on, all by myself. I felt my heart beating faster, but I was doing my best to not overthink. But how can you not overthink in that kind of situation?
The Canadian officer called me in and transferred me to the US side.
Damn, I’m screwed. My mind can’t stop now, I can feel it already - I am in trouble. A new officer jump on the ring until all the questions makes me fall brutally to the floor.
“No, I am not working, just surfing”.
“Yes, I have my return ticket already, and yes, I have a place to stay the whole summer”.
And again, again, and again. Same questions, different words. Just a trick to see if I was lying or not.
One question ended up making the whole difference: “you wouldn’t have something crazy like an internship, isn’t?” the officer tells me while sarcastically laughing, looking at me straight in the eyes.
The only thing I could think of was that they have read my emails and clearly know that I have an internship waiting for me in California. From there, I knew they were done with me. No return, nothing else needed to be said.
For them, I wasn’t a criminal, I was a liar. They consider internships as a job, so as a Canadian citizen, I needed a work visa to do it. For them, I was stealing jobs from Americans. For them, I lied about my purpose, even though I was going to California no matter what, with or without an internship.
I admit I was in the wrong, because obviously I could have said something. I learned something early in life, though, and it is that you need to fight to get what you want, and I seriously wanted that experience with my whole soul. I’ve been fascinated by the surf culture since my late teenage years and since then, it cannot leave my mind. I knew from the start they would tell me than an internship was illegal, but I also knew that they were only giving work visas to a few - it wouldn’t be me. So, why say something? After all, it was basically just following a bunch of creative guys to understand how a magazine works.
Criminals are entering the country every day, and a 20 year old girl gets banned for that. Send me home, I won’t refuse, but don’t ban me. I haven’t killed a man, and it wouldn’t even cross my mind! I didn’t lie about my purpose as much as I didn’t lie about the whole thing: I wasn’t working. I was learning. This is different.
When he came back with the final answer, telling me that I won’t be allowed in the United States for the next 5 years, I felt relieved as I didn’t want to be there if Trump was going to be president. The country would become such a mess if he’s the one leading it. It was only a small part of me though, because I felt the whole rest breaking inside me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. Take my bags and leave.
They sent me back to Vancouver, and at that moment, I realized that even though I considered this city my home, it wasn’t. I felt like a 10 year old kid that just wanted to be back in her mom’s arms. My mom which is still quite ashamed of telling her family members that I’ve been kicked out of the United States.
I was ashamed at the beginning too. I felt like I was now a vain human being, without any experiences or any plans, but I am not anymore.
I may don’t know what’s coming next for me, or where I am going to go now, but instead of beating me down, I decided to see that as a sign.
I launched Nouvelle Vague with the purpose to share my passion with the world, and that’s what I do, every day. I wake up and feel inspired, like there is a reason for me to be here. It isn’t a failure, but a sign that something better will be coming my way.
That story isn’t about surfing, and that story isn’t a joyful story.
You may even consider me as a criminal by now (quite badass though, no?). If there is something we can remember out of it, it’s to stop wishing to be somewhere else. We spend our whole life thinking of where we are going to go next, which cities we are going to fall in love with and what kind of opportunities will come our way.
Stop, you think too much. Be in the now, enjoy it. Don’t miss out! Otherwise you will get kicked out of a country as well, as I wake up call. Trust me, you want to avoid that.