Visiting Montreal is always enjoyable, even if the many overlapping conferences that are part of every year’s so-called Learneds kept me busier than I wanted to be. But there’s something about the trip back down to Vermont that has grown on me over the last seven years since I moved here. It’s not the border — I hate borders, and don’t much like customs officials. The one last night was as unlikable as they get (though I generally just get waved through after a moment’s perusal of my passport and green card). There was, however, the time when I first arrived at that border after finally receiving my green card (years after I should have, my application having gotten lost for far too long in some administrative black hole). The customs official looked at the fresh document, smiled at me — actually smiled, as much as a border official can (or did I imagine that?) — and said, understatedly, “Welcome home.”
Home. (???!) I thanked him and drove off, keeping my Canadian discomfort under wraps, not sure what that exchange had meant. But something in me shifted, and softened, that day.