I have lived in the United States for thirteen years now and have struggled to make this place my home, but often I have had no idea what creates a sense of belonging and being at home.
For the first six years I tried very hard to assimilate and look, act, and sound like everyone else. But then I became confronted with the fact that I had lost myself, and instead of a sense of self, I had gained a deep shame about who I was. Now, on a daily basis, I try to undo that shame and I continue to search for a place where I can belong.
I am in the Toronto airport at the immigration lines. It's 11 p.m. and I can't wait to see my family. It's been five years. Now they are waiting on the other side of those walls. But suddenly my hands shake, my heart beats rapidly, I sweat. I try to reassure myself because I have all the documents they might want to see and I am a permanent legal resident of the United States, yet I continue to feel terrified as if I have done something wrong and they are going to find out about it. I look around me and everyone is holding their blue passports in their hands. Mine is dark red. This simple fact seems to make us so different from one another. When it is my turn, the immigration officer takes my passport and looks at it and asks where I am from, even though it's written on my passport that I am an Iranian citizen. Then he takes mygreen card and looks at it in silence for a long long time and keeps checking out myface. I feel humiliated and uncomfortable and look around me to see that many blue passport holders have come and gone and a lot of people who have grown impatient standing in the line behind me have given up and moved to other lines. Then he simply says, "You are going to have to go in the immigration room and talk to someone there." I walk into the room and see a lot of brown people sitting around the waiting area so I join them. Everyone looks scared. Ifeel sure that I have done something wrong and just can't recall