“Passports! Have our passports out!”
I could recognize the accent anywhere. There is nothing quite like the New York City accent, that tells me that I am ‘home’. In the land of my birth, the land of my family.
The NYC cop scratched his crotch, flipped through my passport, welcomed me back to the States and winked at me.
I cried from Lima to Panama, reflected and wrote from Panama to NYC. Smiled at having the friendly face of my uncle waiting for me at JFK (what a nice change from having to negotiate taxi fares in a foreign country, arriving on my own in a new place).
All through my travels, people have asked me about food in the USA. What is your typical food? And I always respond — your food – as I try to explain that we are a country of immigrants, a land of diversity.
Last night, standing in the immigration line, I was struck by that diversity in coming back to the US — for the first time in 8 months, not everyone had dark hair, dark skin, short in height. Now – there were people surrounding me with all sorts of hair colors, different skin tones, different languages, different heights.
Today, riding the subway – I wanted to connect with people who looked like they came from places I have traveled. The man who could have been from India. The woman who looked Vietnamese. The man who looked Peruvian. I wanted to tell them – ‘I know your country. I love your country. I am just a traveler here too’.
So, I am back. Caught in the in-between — both a citizen and a visitor.