I had just spent a week in Vancouver visiting with my very sick friend Robin. I was going back to Seattle to catch my return flight to New Mexico, to finish out my time at Upaya.
What are you doing in Santa Fe?, the US Customs officer asked. “I’m staying at a Zen Buddhist Center,” I said, sure that would carry some kind of earnest credibility. “Doing what?,” he asked. “Volunteering,” I confidently replied. It transpired then that I do indeed get meals and a bed at Upaya, which might otherwise go to some deserving American. I tried to protest otherwise but was told that if I made the man angry, he’d bar me from the States for five years. And so under a gaudy pink sunrise I was escorted through No Man’s Land and placed on a Greyhound bus headed back through the Massey Tunnel to Vancouver. The plane flew away without me on it, and here I remain. This is how the Universe will pull the rug out from under your feet.
I’m feeling exhausted and shocked, but at some level ready to take whatever detour the path offers. I’ve already learned so much, so deeply, at Upayaâ€”if this isn’t a chance to test it, I don’t know what would be. I am so grateful to be welcomed back to dear Terry’s place, and could couch-surf out the rest of the month if necessary.
But I am yearning to get back to Upaya, to finish out the Practice Period and final sweet sesshin of silence.
I am considering if it is worth another try. I could try to catch a plane out of Vancouver in a couple of days, miss only the first wee bit of Practice Period, and bring my stuff home on the train by mid-February. But I remember the feel of the custom man’s thick fingers as they rolled my own small cold fingers over the fingerprinting glass, and I am afraid that having been flagged, things could only get worse.
Can things get worse, if I make another try at crossing the border? Is that in itself a misdemeanor? Will that info (that i was refused) automatically “flag” me as soon as the passport is swiped? Does anybody know, can anyone offer legal or anecdotal support one way or the other? It is so murky and weird. This free world we live in.