When Customs Forms Get Too Personal

If you’ve ever traveled out of the country, you’ve probably had to fill out a little piece of paper that looks like this:

Customs form

What’s your occupation?

Are you two family?

Where are you staying at your destination?

Are my responses truly essential in ensuring national security? Really, Border Protection….REALLY?!

A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Costa Rica. When we booked the trip around Thanksgiving, I had no idea what a milestone it would turn out to be.

After a 6+ year career in the legal field, I finally called it quits. My heart hadn’t been in it for a long time and the nagging feeling that I should be doing something else somewhere else had gotten too much to bear.

On Wednesday at 5:00pm, I bid my emotional goodbyes to the long-time co-workers I cared to say goodbye to. On Thursday at 2:30am, I was on my way to the airport to start the must-procrastinated next chapter of my life.

I didn’t allow myself any time to let my huge decision sink in. I didn’t want to lose momentum with my new-found motivation. I didn’t want to look back and have any regrets.

The plane landed in San Jose, Costa Rica just after noon on Thursday morning. I stared at the blank customs declaration form the flight attendant had given me.

photo (3)

What IS my occupation?

ARE we family?

And where ARE we staying, anyway?

I scribbled down “writer,” “no,” and “TBD San Jose.” For the past two weeks, I have been pursuing my new career as a full-time freelance writer and it’s going great. For years, I’d been describing myself as a “paralegal”. It was both strange and exhilarating to describe myself as a “writer”.

Although I consider my boyfriend to be family, we are technically not in the eyes of the border patrol. Another awkward and invasive question, in my opinion.

Throughout the trip, we pursued a “winging it” approach. Things had been too planned out lately and we craved spontaneity. We only booked one hostel for nights #2 and 3 in the Arena Volcano area and just figured the rest out along the way. After strolling the streets of San Jose for awhile, we stumbled upon a $10/person hostel above a bus station. More on this in upcoming posts.

While customs forms are simply a nuisance for most people, mine really made me think. A silly government form made me consider my new-found career, my awesome relationship, and the overall tone of the adventure we were just beginning. So thank you, Border Control…I’m finally getting my life figured out and I’m glad you noticed.

*Stay tuned for lots more Costa Rican adventure goodness!

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