Summer’s just started in Montreal. Trying to find myself amongst hippies and performance artists. Money, love, nationality; the lines between them gets blurred living as a bohemian. By day I hit the streets with my guitar and Justin Bieber covers. At night, it’s comedy gigs in poorly lit French cafes. Neither endeavor brings much dough, but the cost of living here is so damn low.
My phone lights up with a message from an ex. Apparently she’s in New York for the week. That would be like a six hour drive if I had a car. This proximity is obviously inviting a relapse. Interracial love is just too damn good. Plans are made to link up in the Big Apple. I check online for bus tickets. Ouch, definitely out of my price range. So is ridesharing. Time to get old school.
With a makeshift sign reading “NYC”, I stick a thumb out on the Trans-Canada Highway.
A motorcycle pulls up, badass biker chick offers me a helmet. I hop on and we’re off. Hands wrapped her waist, I explain my plan, “There’s this white girl in New York who I love; probably gonna smash.” She agrees that it’s totally worth it, and drops me off at busy intersection.
My next ride is a bunch of college kids. They smoke me up, and I ask how far they’re going. “Right to the border,” responds the driver, eyes not even on the road. Seems like my story inspired people. Or at least entertained them. Soon the border is in view. Reeking of reefer, I thank my new friends and stick my thumb out again. This was going way better than expected.
A mini van honks at me, power doors unlocking. An Asian lady named Fae drives, her three children in the backseat. I tactfully avoid the reason for my trek. We make small talk for bit. She tenses up. Tells me to get out. “Walk across, then I’ll pick you up on the other side.” Jesus lady. We are like five meters away, now is not the time for a change of heart.
Feeling extremely foolish I walk up to the gate. Frowning overtop aviators, the customs agent takes in my guitar case and tattered sneakers. “What is your purpose for entering the United States today?” I gulp. “Well there’s this white girl in New York who I love; probably gonna smash.” The agent doesn’t laugh.
They detain me for about two hours. Finally someone comes to get me. “We aren’t letting you stateside. I don’t believe you have the funds to support yourself, and hitchhiking is illegal.” She hands me my passport and points the way I came. “Walk back to Canada.”
In a daze, I start across the lot. Fuck Trump! Denying me entry, just for being poor. About halfway across the neutral zone I realize I’m completely alone. This place was meant for driving not walking. There’s wilderness on either side. Maybe I could…? Before common sense prevails I hop a chain link fence and enter bush. The forest is thick, and branches are tearing at my clothes. Obama forgive me, I’m illegally immigrating.
Out the woods, and unto highway. In the United States. Success. Canadian expat status. Proud of my ingenuity, I walk along the road, thumb out. Probably take about three steps. An armored car whips out of nowhere. U.S. Border Patrol. Fuck. Two officers decked out in tactical gear get out. They take one look at my disheveled clothes, bleeding ankles, and cuff me.
At the station, one of the guys mercilessly rifles through my belongings. He maintains eye contact the whole time, daring me to say something. Bad cop. He holds up my “NYC” sign with a laugh. A notebook falls out. Not good. That thing is filled with half formed joke ideas. Definitely some overt references to terrorism.
“Hey I’m a comedian, so if there’s any… funny stuff in there, it’s because I’m a funny guy.” I laugh endearingly. Silence. Female officer takes my fingerprints. She’s being super kind, and despite myself I fall for the good cop routine. Time for the interrogation.
“I sort of got lost, and ended up on wrong side of the border.” Bad cop shakes his head in disgust. “So that’s the story you’re sticking to?” They throw me in dingy cell. Right, time to reevaluate. This whole; don’t tell the police anything bit, was not working out. Sorry Drake.
I call over the good cop. “Can we talk?” Back to the integration room. “You see there’s this white girl I love In New York… and I would do anything to see her again. So I made a horrible decision and jumped a fence. Sorry for illegally immigrating.” They both lean back, smirking.
Good cop spills that the cameras had spotted me. They just wanted to hear me fess up. Played. “You’ve got two choices kid. Contest your arrest in immigration court, where you’ll probably lose and get deported. Or we can drive you back to Canada.” I pick the latter. Better than walking.
All the tension leaves the room, and we start joking around. The cops uncuff me and let me watch as they type up their report. Their computers say Department of Homeland Security. So hype. For a moment I’m just on a field trip at a border office. I show them some of my YouTube videos. They all laugh appreciatively, winning me six more subscribers.
The squad lets me ride shotgun on the way back. Last thing I want is for my stupid sense of romance to cause a wall to be built. The officers assure me that our two nations would probably remain homies.
At the border, the Americans totally snitch. Back on Canuck soil, one guy grabs my passport and detains me again. Great. Ten minutes later he’s back. “We can’t do anything. You’re free to go.” He hands back my passport. Can’t believe this is happening. “But don’t do that again. Please.” I agree, and for good measure add a very Canadian “sorry.” There’s no place like home.