Flying Home To Canada

Flying from Washington DC to Toronto Ontario,  I crossed the border somewhere in the air.  It was dark outside of my porthole. I wanted to look out and see when I crossed over. See a bold black line delineating the border.

When the wheels touched the ground in Canada I thought I would feel something. Maybe start to cry, feel some loss, some gain. I looked out the window to see if I saw anything that looked Canadian. There was a Canadian Red Maple Leaf on the tail of the Air Canada plane. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t cry.  Maybe I will become a United States citizen this year. I  will get a United States passport. I will take the oath of allegiance.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.

  I don’t think  I will cry when I am pass through customs.

I am handed a customs form by the airline stewardess. Name, address. When did you leave Canada? I am confused by the question.  Was it three years ago when I was in Canada last to visit my mother. I write down that date. No,wait. I was only visiting. I last lived in Canada in 1983. I left on November 2, of that year. Silly me.

I didn’t  know I was leaving. I just haven’t moved back. I don’t think  I will cry. 

We are the only airplane going through customs at eleven at night in Toronto Ontario. There are a half-dozen people in front of me. The rest of the fast walkers from our meandering group on the United flight from The United States Of America.  The country that I am a permanent resident of. The people in front of me are all directed to the agents to the right. Serious looking balding men. I am directed to the pleasant-looking agent to my left with a full head of dark curly hair. The person who could keep me out. He reads my customs form and asks me. “So you are home for four days?’


The word floats in the air. The letters fall apart.





I nod my head.  I can not talk.  My chin quivers and tears spill out of my eyes. He hands me back my Canadian passport, and I breathe,  “It has been a long time.”

And then I know.

I will not absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance to Canada.

I will renew my Canadian Passport.

This is my country.

I am breathing Canadian Air.


12 responses to “Flying Home To Canada

  1. So many emotions as you travel back to your homeland. Your heart knows what is right for you. Follow it.

  2. Beautiful. I haven’t Iived in Minnesota since the fall of 1995 when I moved away for college in another state. I did go home on breaks for two years after that and went back for two months one summer, but I really didn’t live there anymore. Whenever I go back, even now,, I’m home. Minnesota will always be my real home.

    • Home has our heart doesn’t it. Mine is in the woods or on the riverbank in Saskatchewan. My new home is whatever roof I have over my head, with my husband and children. A home of people not place.

  3. A very emotional piece. I could feel a struggle and the tugs and pulls of the different desires and longings. I could feel the sadness and then the pride. Wishing you a lovely trip home.

  4. I have enjoyed your photographs and your words this month Pamela. Your thoughtful stories just draw me in whatever form the storytelling takes. Your generous comments have encouraged me, too. Thank you.

  5. As for myself, the bare, winter-stripped trees and lakes of northern Alberta will stay rooted and frozen in the inner landscape of mind and memory, no matter where I may roam.

    In honor of your last slice, a most Canadian poem. I think perhaps the most Canadian thing I’ve ever read. And full of the same careful craft that is present in your writing.


    You never say anything in your letters. You say,
    I drove all night long through the snow
    in someone else’s car
    and the heater wouldn’t work and I nearly froze.
    But I know that. I live in this country too.
    I know how beautiful it is at night
    with the white snow banked in the moonlight.

    Around black trees and tangled bushes,
    how lonely and lovely that driving is,
    how deadly. You become the country.
    You are by yourself in that channel of snow
    and pines and pines,
    whether the pines and snow flow backwards smoothly,
    whether you drive or you stop or you walk or you sit.

    This land waits. It watches. How beautifully desolate
    our country is, out of the snug cities,
    and how it fits a human. You say you drove.
    It doesn’t matter to me.
    All I can see is the silent cold car gliding,
    walled in, your face smooth, your mind empty,
    cold foot on the pedal, cold hands on the wheel.

    John Newlove

  6. Beautiful piece. I could feel the words fall apart along with your emotions and I did too. Congratulation on making through a month of writing every day! Hope to see you on Tuesdays!

  7. Welcome home, Pamela. The tension between home as place and home as people rips through this piece, ripped through me as I read your slice tonight. Your writing has gone straight to the core of my being many times this month.

  8. Love the photo. So stark and plain. But beyond the sign welcoming you home, through the doors there is color.

    • If ever you wanted to make your Mother cry you just did a bang up job & I have never been prouder, it would make me very unhappy to see you renounce your country of origin, not my decision to make but yours. Still, as my tears fell I knew your comments had made me very happy. Home to Canada.

  9. You are still a Canadian. Don’t kid yourself. 😉

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