What was the purpose of your visit?

When you cross the US/Mex border back into the land of liberty, you get asked some pretty existential questions: Where are you coming from? What was the purpose of your visit? What are you bringing back? What is your destination? … Figuring out the answers to these questions could be a life’s work, but in my daily 2 minute interaction, the answers come quickly: (border city), work, nothing, home. 9 times out of 10 I’m also asked where (or what) is Belarus (typically pronounced Behla-ross by customs agents), and I’m reminded that I was born in a country that I have little recollection of. Sometimes this makes them suspicious and they run checks on my passport. To this day, after 5 months of crossing, I still haven’t been able to figure out how the Patriot Act applies, if the protocol is to scan passports with strange countries (who knows, could be Middle Eastern), or if Belarussian terrorists are now supposed to be coming in through Mexico. Or maybe they scan it just because I’m not Mexican or Mexican American. (When I asked a customs agent, I was told to write to Washington.) After all, what could a white girl of Soviet origin possibly be doing on the border? … In a word, I’m working. Like many Mexicans, I did not choose to live on the border. **Mexicans didn’t cross the border, the border crossed them.** In my case, it’s not so social justicy or poetic – I was sent here to coordinate a research study that happens to take place near the border. But like the Mexicans, I am here now. I live and I cross and I cross again (many days several times, with on-foot crossing quickies) and while I live and cross I get to see a lot of stuff that I think is worth writing about. Many of you know that I have been meaning to start a blog for a long time, so here it is, started without elegance or a real introduction, but like an artsy (pretentious?) novel beginning in the middle of things and hoping that you will get into it and figure it out as I go along. As my coworker here likes to say, be write back, going to Mexico. It’s about a 7-minute walk from home.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “What was the purpose of your visit?

  1. I just found your blog today via Citizen Orange, and I think it is tremendously insightful. I am curious about the research project you are working on; are you willing to talk about it?

    Thank you, and again, love the blog.

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