Friday, June 25, 2010

Finding joy in my journeys

Confession: I haven’t updated my blog very regularly as of late because I’m afraid of boring my readers (assuming I have any).

I first staked out this little spot of cyberspace as a way to share my Jerusalem experiences and named it fittingly “Journey’s With Jade.” This was all very well when was exploring the Holy Land or revisiting my native country of South Africa but these days I sometimes feel my life doesn’t quite live up to the title.

Luckily President Monson has reminded me to find joy in my every day journeys, and so I will continue to post my experiences on the World Wide Web for those who care to read about them.

For example, here are some things that brought me joy in Utah and Idaho:

Exploring the Salt Lake Cemetery, and visiting the resting places of modern-day prophets.

Attending a Michael Jackson party in Provo where we danced to his music and ate popcorn and popsicles to commemorate the King of Pop. (Note: I did not know it was an MJ party when I showed up.)

Watching South Africa play Mexico in the first game of the World Cup with one of my favourite SA expatriates and her Mexican friends.

Singing songs at midnight to the accompaniment of an old antique piano that had been carried to a third story apartment by thirteen men.

Heading for the beach and ending up at the sand dunes (the beach minus water) where we jumped and rolled in the sand and took lots of pictures.

Walking along some railway tracks and discussing how they metaphorically represented our lives and the choices we make.

* * *

I’m sure I’ll inevitably head off on another grand adventure before too long, but in the meantime I’ll fall back on the old metaphor that life is a journey and try to make the most of it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Crossing the Line

Funny how one invisible line on a map can make so much difference. I am thinking in particular of the 49th Parallel, which unforgivingly divides the US and Canada.

I frequently cross this line (in fact in the last six years I’ve spent more time on the wrong side of the line what with school, mission and play – just don’t mention that to the border guards) but it never gets any easier.

I’m not sure why but border guards and immigration officers all seem to have an uncanny ability to make even the most innocent of people feel guilty. I’m always terribly nervous as I wait for my turn to cross the border – never sure what they might decide to ask or accuse me of. I’m not the only one who experiences this anxiety. My dad has a habit of practicing out loud what he is going to say.

But really, this invisible line is no laughing matter. Last week while my mom and I were waiting to cross the border to go shopping I asked, “Do you think that if I were to get out of the car and start running they would shoot me?” We decided it was better not to find out.

Occasionally I will get by with the simple inquiry – “what is your purpose?” Other times it is not quite so pleasant.

Take today for instance. Here is the just of the interrogation:

Border Guard: What is the purpose of your visit?

Me: I’m visiting some friends in Utah.

BG: How long will you be gone for?

Me: Two weeks. (I then produced my flight information, which he inspected.)

BG: What will you be doing in the US?

Me: Um … visiting friends …. in Utah.

BG: What do you do for a living? (Surprise attack! Oh no, he found my weakness.)

Me: I’m currently unemployed. (Later I realize that I should have said I was a freelance writer and private English tutor, which is true.)

BG: (raises his eyebrow)

Me: I just finished a course and now I am looking for a job. (Trying to justify the burden that I am to society.)

BG: When was the last time you were in school?

Me: May.

BG: How do you support yourself?

Me: With savings and I live with my family.

BG: Your family?

Me: My parents. (Yes ok, I am 25 and I live with my parents.)

BG: What kind of funds are you bringing with you?

Me: Some cash and my credit card.

BG: You will have enough funds to survive two weeks here?

Me: Yes. (Do I look like a homeless person? Brief unemployment doesn’t equal absolute poverty.)

BG: Have you ever had trouble crossing the border?

Me: No. (Not until today.)

BG: All right. You can go.

Last time this happened, the border guard wanted to know how I knew people in Utah. I wanted to tell him it was because I was Mormon. Instead I told him I went to BYU. Seriously, I’m sure they must have bigger problems to worry about than innocent single unemployed young women going for a two week visit to Utah.

Worst-case scenario: I meet a nice young man in Utah. It’s love at first sight. We have a brief two-week courtship and get married.

Trust me Mr. Border Guard. Your country is safe. I will happily return home at the end of two weeks and breath in the fresh Canadian air on my side of the line.