Clearing Customs

from by Cheryl and Emerson Martlage

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Traveling to Italy twice each year has been part of the plan we put in place some years ago. Determined to create “enchantment” in a European studio was part of our dream. We made the commitment and then followed through, however, the reality of the process is often something altogether different than the dream.

It was always interesting to go through customs to get “approved” for entry, and sobering to realize that we aren’t pre-authorized to enter another country. We are very aware that it is a “privilege” rather than a “right” to do what we do.

Then we thought about our own "customs." We concluded that it's usually our own self-imposed restrictions that prevent us from going anywhere in this “world.” As usual, making up our minds, and switching to another perspective, freed us up to enter new and undiscovered places—clearing customs.

Check out our related story at Uncommon Promise


Eleven hours in coach with no room
Collected all of our luggage from carousel B
Shuffled with people all heading for
Passport control to present our IDs
Along with a claim form
We have nothing to declare
To clear customs and enter the country

We approach the guard in the booth
Seeking only permission to enter
If our documents are all in order
Perhaps we will finally get beyond the gate
Destination so close at hand

Going to a different place
Means we’re strangers here on foreign soil
Every village and country trail
Leads us further still along

Searching always some special place
Means we’re pilgrims here, on our way
Crossing borders of each frontier
Takes us past the edge we’ve known

Now at the window it’s finally our turn
To be approved, get the authorized mark
Officials ask us to state our intentions:
“Business or pleasure.” “And where did you start?”
He hands us our passports
Scans our faces one last time, “Have a good stay here.”
We cleared customs
We are all just waiting our turn to clear customs

To clear customs


from Fitting Pieces, track released July 1, 2007
Cheryl Martlage - Lyrics and vocals
Emerson Martlage - Music, guitar and vocals
Mr Toad's San Francisco - Mastering


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Cheryl and Emerson Martlage San Diego, California

At the age of 48, and after 25 years of marriage, we headed to a secluded town for 6 weeks, to create a new relationship and begin again.

When we arrived as if by magic, we co-wrote our first song ever— "Never Sleep," evoking the mystery and magic of the new adventure. Twenty years later, we're still making music. Join us on our musical storytelling as the adventure continues to unfold
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