Tonight I am breathing a sigh of relief.
I am officially a permanent resident of Canada.
I actually was a permanent resident before this evening, but, well, it's complicated. I was issued permanent residency a few months ago, as well as a social insurance number (the canuck equivalent of an SSN). But it was in the form of a paper document, which only acted as a temporary way of leaving the country via car while I waited for my proper permanent resident card. My rights were limited.
I applied for this card more than three months ago.
After so many hiccups and moments of sheer hopelessness throughout the course of this process, as of 5:30 p.m. today, when I unsuspectingly opened the letter from Citizenship & Immigration Canada, my journey is finally complete.
I received my Government-Issued ID Card that makes my immigration finalized. With this card, I can leave the country via plane. And not only that, I can leave as many times as I want. From here on out, I can come and go freely without worrying that I'll be subject to interrogation by a border agent, or even be denied entry back into the country.
In a nutshell, I now have a right to be here.
My ID card lists USA as my "Nationality" which brings me endless joy. But I can also say that I now rightfully belong in Canada, and in a weird way, that will help me sleep easier at night.
The only direction to go now is forward.