I’m not American
In spite of my ever-so-flawless-grammatically-correct command of English language, no, I was not born in the USofA and I do not hold any sort of citizenship to this country. Although I’ve been here for over 6 (and a half!) years – that’s more than a quarter of my life, and the entirety of my “adult” life at that. You’d think they’d give me a break and just let me stay here. Alas, they (the government?) forsake me the chance of the betterment of this country; they would rather rid themselves of a highly educated brain, educated on their own soil no less, than make it easy for “aliens” to live a carefree life. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but when it starts to get personal…
I’m an Immigrant
You see, because of my six and half year residency, which (once again) spans the entirety of my adult life, I’ve… built a life here. My significant other and I live together, in this country; my house and all of my belongings (sans some old teddy bears which are still back in the old country) are all here; my higher education left its mark on me, and I left its mark on it, here; and my professional life has been and is only here. I’ve built connections of all sorts which have rooted my ground, and would be very, very painful to simply, just, remove.
Yet removal is always a very real possibility. At any point in time, for any number of reasons, I can at some point be “kicked out” or “not let back in.” It’s scary to think that a cranky immigration officer, or a white haired old white guy from the Senate, or a crazy boss on a firing rampage, can wake up one day and decide my future and desecrate my past by stripping me of the life I’ve built. I’ve been in a narrowly scary situation, several times, where I almost, unknowingly, did something that could’ve put me in some trouble, but thankfully all was resolved. Still, I felt what it’s like to “have your heart in your hands” and “your balls in your throat.” Consequently, I experienced a prolonged period of major anxiety, mostly due to that situation in which I was forced to reconsider how precarious my life really is.
The Dark Cloud
Realistically speaking, getting randomly evicted out of this country has slim chances of occurring. I’ve always been legal, and I have the monetary resources to seek legal assistance should I need it. But the time ticking away until my next visa expires is always at the back of my head, looming over me like a dark cloud, its uncertainty following me everywhere I go, a painful reminder of my impermanency here. The intricate dependencies that make up the conditions for my stay often seem so flimsy and fragile. What if I get fired from my job, and don’t find another one right away? What if my company goes under? What if I want to quit my job? What if I mess up the paperwork (which has happened)? What if I, suddenly, am forced to leave everything – house, friends, wife, life, everything – behind? Where would I go? Home? Isn’t this my home?
And THAT is the scary reality of being an immigrant.