I love traveling as much as I love writing. This is my second post in my Memorable Border Crossings and it feeds in a personal way to my new release, Kiss Me in the Rain, the first of the Tanner Family Series. The series tackles environmental, social and economical issues, but the backbone of the series is the familial dynamic of adult siblings and their divorced parents. I know not everyone has positive border crossings, but this memory shares a happy moment during a rather awkward family time.
Coming Back into the U.S.A: Semester in Scotland
When I was 18 years old I received a brochure from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire’s International Office declaring I could study abroad. I was eighteen and it was a full two weeks before I even stepped foot in any of my freshman lecture halls or classrooms. Back then, still a couple years before I would meet my now, and very much a planner, husband, I didn’t do organized. But this, something I would have to apply a whole year in advance for, called me like a very loud, very specific bull horn. Sarah, Study Abroad!
I applied for a program in Scotland, got accepted, and waited not-so-patiently to zip off to the land of castles, kilts, scotch, really cool accents and rugby. During that year my parents also happened to start the very long, rather painful process of divorcing.
Did I mention rugby? Turns out contact sports are really good at letting go of bottled up tension. Which I found out during my AMAZING semester in that incredibly welcoming, happy, beautiful country. I was having an epic experience, in between emails and phone calls from the dividing home front.
When my semester was over and my nineteen year old self flew back home, I walked out of the tunnel from the plane and headed down the windowed corridor to customs. On the other side of those floor-to-ceiling windows was my mom and my sister . . . and a few paces away my dad and his girlfriend. I know both my parents were just really excited I was home, but, well. . . awkward!
What does this have to do with border guards? As I walked down that corridor and I saw my two rides waiting to pick me up and dreading the first of what would be many perceived “who do you chose” scenarios, I walked into U.S. Customs. I have never wanted to wait so long in a line in my life. Or hang out with people with badges and guns. But all too soon it was my turn.
The border guard had no idea the family drama I would be stepping into in just a few moments, but he looked at me, handed me back my passport, and said, “Welcome home.”
I stared at him a moment, and realized he meant it.
“Thanks.” I said, feeling fortified by the kind, no-strings-attached words of a stranger. I borrowed some of his strength, hoped the jet lag didn’t make me ask my family the obvious, and went to see who I was catching a ride with. And have always remembered that small kindness that meant more to me than that border guard would ever know.
That having been said, I have heard those two magic words, Welcome Home, almost every time since. Still, it's pretty cool. Thanks Mr. Nice Border Guard Guy.
Happy Trails . . .