Back by popular demand – hopefully not one show only

12:11am, 11 December 2022

Surely if I could hear el vecino gallo in Australia, he’d be promptly banned from the building, just as Australians love to ban anything mildly inconvenient or uncomfortable, or at the very least, to avoid having a mildly inconvenient or uncomfortable conversation. On the other hand, 6-day-a-week commercial construction involving heavy machinery and dust is A-OK, because capitalism must march on!

I’ve started improv classes (and even done a first performance, which was a lot of fun and attended by some of my nearest and dearest). I’d always wanted to try improv and decided to give it a shot. I’ve never done acting or comedy before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but what I didn’t expect is how positive it is. It’s actually a non-shit group dynamic, with strong ground rules and a lot of fun. If you have never done it, I would highly recommend at least giving it a crack. My school has free trial classes if you are in Melbourne and want to try.

Part of the improv schtick is the audience gives you a word and from that word, someone in the onstage team has to come up with a story vaguely about that word, from which the scenes are then created. I’ve never been very good at telling jokes, because I’m inclined to forget the funny bits, but an improv story does not need to be funny, just full of details. Usually, they are pretty entertaining just because.

Is anyone ever really listening?

Everyone has stories, it’s just that we don’t all tell them, or maybe we do, but no one is listening, because they’re too busy thinking of their own stories. Usually, the things that are the shittest at the time turn out to be good stories once you are out on the other side.

Like that time in 2021, when I was trapped overseas with no easy way home during a pandemic (and no, I will never stop being angry with Australia and most Australians about this), and because of all this my visa had expired. So Piolo and I went to the immigration office in Hermosillo to find out what to do. One of the main things we had to do was turn up early as possible in the morning, write our names in and book and then sit in the sun and wait to be called.

Every time the illegal-immigrant rounding up buses would pull up, my stomach would sink. Visions of being hauled off to some hell-hole in the desert to catch covid and have to shit in a bucket were never far from my mind (my anxiety was probably not helped by my dear Piolo pointing them out and saying that I would be on one soon). We did get to meet some nice people in the line though, including a Cuban who confirmed the suspicions of my friend Rody – she has always maintained that she would never go to Cuba because Cubans escape to Mexico, so, therefore, Cuba must be fucked and this was the general gist of our conversation.

After waiting several hours and explaining the situation to the woman behind the counter. She didn’t call la Migra to throw me in the bus, but what she did do was tell me to go to the US-Mexico border and go to the immigration office and pretend I had walked over the bridge from the USA. This was the same advice I had received from weird Nicolas, the Dutch neighbour, but I didn’t expect it to come from a member of the public service.

The next day Piolo and I boarded a bus for the 3-hour journey to Nogales, Sonora, just over the border from Nogales, Arizona. The bus journey is broken up by a stop in Querobabi (about halfway) where you have to get off the bus and be patted down by the Mexican military and have all your bags x-rayed to make sure you’re going to the border for nefarious purposes (such as lying to immigration?). Then you buy delicious burritos at the convenient kiosk and wait to get back on the bus. Other than the knot of dread in my stomach knowing I was about to lie to immigration, the journey was uneventful.

Mexico, America(?), Mexico

Australians seem to get very excited about borders in general (and I’m not referring to poxy Annastacia P or Mark McClown’s stupid competition for who could be most cunty during the pandemic or the yearly State of Origin rugby league game), but actually crossing into new states or countries seems to be a fairly novel concept, because Australia is a giant island. I remember travelling to Sydney with my parents as a kid and loving crossing the border. into New South Wales.

On arrival in Nogales, I did get mild jollies out of not only being at a border, but being at the border – the magical, mystical one Hollywood loves to make movies about and the one that Trump based an entire election on.

Nogales itself is a pretty normal Mexican city, the main difference I noticed from Hermosillo is the number of pharmacies and dentists, where people from the USA obviously come to stock up and get their teeth fixed. The main thing that stands out is the elephant in the room – the giant metal border wall which runs through it.

Some random “illegal” at the border wall

We arrived at the immigration office and I felt sick in my stomach. I don’t like lying and I knew the story I was about to tell was not backed up by my passport. Piolo, for some reason, decided to wait outside but was also kinda lurking. I approached the desk and told the guy what I needed. He made a pretence of flicking through my passport and before stamping it, he said, “And who is that outside?” I told him it was my boyfriend.

He called Piolo in and gave him far more of a grilling than I got. He asked Piolo where he was from, and where he was born and asked to see his ID. When Piolo gave him his national ID, he looked at it and said – “This doesn’t even look like you anymore, you need to update it.” Yeah dude, whatever, stay in your own lane. We can only assume that because there was a big problem with the migrant caravan at the time, the guy thought Piolo was from Central America. We weren’t in any position to argue, so Piolo mumbled something, we paid the money and the visa was issued. He didn’t give us any change, but I considered it my liar tax.

And that kids, is the story of how I was an illegal overstayer, did a border run and lied to the government of my host country, even though by all accounts, they had treated me better than my own during a pandemic. Improv that!

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