This is the only thing I can write today.
My Canadian residency is in doubt. My denial may soon be final, based on something so perverse and so trivial as my being a member of an ODSP-receiving household. My appeals may yet save me, as Ania and I exhaust every remaining option to secure my life here in Canada.
Because there is no life for me elsewhere.
It is never easy to have memories of a place one can no longer love. Immigrants know this knife-twist well, of dreams we could only live out by leaving, places we fled under ultimate duress, places we never wanted to leave behind. I remember the balmy flatness, the cheery palms, the delicious education I could get nowhere else. I remember friends who kept me from faltering and, ever so slowly, helped me find myself, even as I found her far away from them. I remember the electric humidity of the day when I learned that my future would never come if I did not leave. I remember the day I learned that space would only be held for me there if I cut off the parts of myself that they refused to love. I remember the moorhen calls and bird-of-paradise landscaping. I remember nighttime retreats in the glorious weather. I remember seeking confined darkness in my bedroom closet, under my desk, anywhere else I could find it. I remember loneliness that I did not solve until I left. I remember the wretched awkwardness of endless defense, because I was not safe there.
I remember Mom begging me not to vote for Barack Obama. I remember shouting matches about how I was wrong to fear Donald Trump. I remember my home state, fitful and cruel, declaring its approval of his odious platform. I remember halting steps forward and leaping steps backward, repeating through time in every direction. I remember the day I learned I was in one of the United States’s most hated demographics, and watching the tragic stories roll in with ever more personal horror.
I remember the dingy red overlay of all of my memories after that: This is gone now. This was a lie. This was a role you could only ever pretend to fit, and not even well. This is paid for in you never, ever feeling like you belong here. You can’t have this, not ever, because the version of you who could have it never existed.
There is nothing left for me there but friends I grew apart from for a reason, family I avoid for even bigger reasons, hardships no one should be made to endure that this place pretends are normal, and concrete underfoot that stinks of resentment and regret.
I spent a decade there, and I fled, and it is not mine.
It is an enormous country, many times larger than the ever-strange piece where I lived last, and none of it is any better. None of it is safe, none of it is welcome, and none of it is home.
Home is what I built here, what I didn’t even want to build here because I dreaded this day would eventually come. Home was finding people who could see me and still want me around, who did not hold out ambition that I could eventually be some other, more palatable person and keep me around on that basis. Home is where I learned the things about myself that would ultimately redefine the parameters of my entire life. Home is where I stopped being lonely and started being me.
Home is where it isn’t legal to deny me housing, employment, medical care, or anything else on the basis of my gender. Home is not where authoritarians paint a target on people like me and wait for their goons to turn me into another too-young obituary.
It will not be to “home” that they deport me. That place has not been home for a long, long time, and if the current regime succeeds in its goals, it never will be again.