“Excuse me, what did you just say to me?” said the airport security lady, giving me a look like I had just admitted to a fondness for barbecuing babies.
I was just off a 9 hour flight from London to DC, fuzzy and wondering why telling someone I had a package of cookies in my luggage was apparently worthy of raising the terror alert level.
Over the next five minutes, the lady lectured me on the dangers of not declaring goods at customs (even though we both knew that packaged cookies didn’t have to be declared to begin with), told me how she was “this close” to taking me into security room and giving me a $300 fine, and haranguing me about my responsibilities as a citizen.
Stunned and exhausted from the flight, I nodded and yes ma’am-ed my way through the lecture, waiting for it to end. When she finally ran down and scribbled something on a piece of paper to file, she let me past. Just as I started to walk past her to the arrivals hall, she put out her hand to stop me again and said,
Add paragraph text here.
“Oh, and sweetie? Welcome home.”
. . . .
It was my first experience of being back in my home country in a few years. I’m an exile by choice, having left my home state of North Carolina for Hong Kong, then Greece, then the UK, via a laundry list of short stops in other countries.
A few of my “offices” along the way.
I had dreamed of getting out ever since I was a kid. Even before I really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew I wanted to be it somewhere else. And I was lucky enough, hard working enough, crazy enough to make that happen in my early 20s, when despite having graduated with honors, double majors, and the whole shebang, the only job I could find was unpacking boxes on the 6AM shift at Old Navy.
I stuck with it for six months before, seeing the terrifying inertia that seemed to settle heavier on people every day in that job, that town, that region, I packed it in and moved across the world to Hong Kong.
Looking back, I now see that was the easy part.
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