A few weeks ago, I was pulled over at the border crossing from Canada to the U.S. and my car was searched. Then a few days ago, it happened again. After a year of moving easily between Windsor and Detroit, it seems like I’ve been flagged and need to expect regular bouts of interrogation. Of course, I’m not doing anything wrong. I go to Detroit to create and, because I am in control of my own schedule, I can do that whenever I please.
This causes the folx at the border infinite angst, however. I tell them I’m a writer and a coach and explain that I work online. Then the questions start rolling in. They’re concerned that I’m looking for work in the U.S. It’s all I can do not to explain the internet to them. If I wanted to work in the U.S., I sure as hell don’t need to cross the border to make that happen. Of course, I don’t say this. Instead, I answer their questions in more or less the same way I do every time.
The reason I was crossing the border was to meet with my creative soul twin to talk about a writing project we’re going to start collaborating on. This is something I do need to go to the U.S. to make happen. Not because we can’t connect via technology but because there’s a certain magic that comes with being able to meet in real time. Despite the jarring nature of being interrogated at the border, this project is something I will continue to cross lines for.
And if I’m being totally honest with you, I like the thrill of doing something risky. It feels risky to go into a country that is not my own to make art that is political and critical of current power structures. It feels risky to pour so much love and time into writing that may never become anything. It feels risky to prioritize making art in a world that encourages us to focus on making money in ways that are linear and predictable. If only I could explain this to the border guards.
What’s risky about the lines I’m crossing has little to do with money or employment and has everything to do with the ideas I am making more tangible through my creative work. In this way, being interrogated at the border is a small price to pay for this opportunity. While I won’t say no to money that comes as a result of what I’m co-creating, that’s not why I’m doing this work. I’m doing it because it needs to be done and I am one of the folx who is meant to make it happen.
Whether or not you need to move across a country’s border in order to make your art, it’s still risky business being a creative. In a world that would rather you stay asleep and unaware of the injustices around you, your art has the ability to wake us all up. In that way, it is the most important work you can do. I hope you see this and continue to persist as you dance your way through the many risks that, just like border lines, can be limits of our own construction.
So, what feels risky about your creative practice and work?