In 2011 I made a month-long trip to Panama, and that trip started almost exactly seven years to the day from when I entered Canada.
This was during a non-restaurant stint in my life. At the time I was being paid to write copy for an internet company. Back then, when a Panamanian official asked my occupation, I gave a succinct, and well-practiced answer:
This time it was a bored looking Canadian official who asked me what I did for work, and I suppose technically I was unemployed.
“Uh. I’m a writer,” I barfed out.
“What do you write?” he asked suspiciously.
“Oh, um, some fiction… and food –”
He cut me off sharp, “Is someone at work going to be expecting you back at a certain time?”
“Well, with my kind of writing it doesn’t really work that way. I just write. I don’t really have a workplace,” I explained awkwardly.
He rolled his eyes, marked my sheet with a red pen, and waved me through.
My friend Pat stood there waiting for me in a near-empty terminal as I walked through the giant sliding doors. My bags hung off me like a hobo.
I’d made an unceremonious stumble into Canada.
I’d had a vague idea before I left the States of what I’d do for work. While most traditional employment would have little need for an American such as myself, Canada held some short-term opportunities.
I considered my first option to be working as a cooking performance artist.
The idea was half-baked, but I had some history of performance.