Happy Fourth

I realized today that this is the fourth 4th I’ve spent outside the US. The first was when I was in Ireland for the summer of 2007, and the other three are the last few years which I’ve spent in Canada. Earlier this week was Canada Day (July 1) which is like the Fourth of July but with only red and white and no blue.

I have mixed feelings about the US as I do about most things (I’m an overthinker). It is a country that I’ve watched turn away my friends and loved ones while others cross the border illegally every day. But it is my homeland, and I am grateful to the US for all of its great qualities: its diverse landscapes and peoplescapes, its refusal to be anything but itself.

I am also grateful to Canada for the opposite reason. It is content to be another country in the world without having to claim it is the only country in the world. It cohabits the continent and the world like a friendly neighbor who offers you a cup of sugar before you have to ask. On the other hand, the US wants to build fences along its borders to keep the neighbors the hell off its lawn while it continues to invade other neighborhoods (usually with good intention) – it is a statement that says “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine as well.”

Sometimes this concerns me, like when I see the buzzfeed lists of why America is the greatest country ever. I know its a joke, but I also know it isn’t. And I saw a similar post about why Canada is better than the US this Canada Day and that concerned me too. As Canada grows and matures, is it hitting the adolescent arrogance of the US?

With age and time comes perspective. I sometimes miss not living at the center stage of the world, the focus of the universe, having access to all the stores and websites and getting everything first. (Those of you reading this in the US–you wouldn’t believe the reputation of coveted things like “American Netflix” which has access to more and better shows and movies than its lesser versions around the world.) But I’ve never really liked being at the center of attention, which is why I write my words more often than I speak them.

There is something to be said for the grandness that is America. While anyone or anything claiming to be the greatest in the world makes me wary at best, today is a day to put those feelings aside and remember what a great country the US truly is. It birthed most of the wonderful people I know and love. I must remind myself that that adolescent arrogance has lessons to teach me about pride and confidence and taking ownership myself and what I hold dear.

So today I put my overthinking and my mixed feelings aside, and I say, “Happy Fourth of July!”

Happy Canada Day!

 

Canada is a great place to live. It’s a lot like the US in many ways, but it has its differences too.

In some ways Canada is like a younger US. The population is much smaller so immigrants are still flooding into Canada at a rapid pace. Whereas, in America (legal) immigration has come to a halt, relatively speaking. Sure there are still people coming in from around the world, but unless they are refugees or are filthy rich, they have to fight incredibly hard to stay.

While the US is turning people away, Canada is saying: Come here! And I’m one of the many that came when Canada called. I moved to Canada just over a year ago. When I think of what Canada means to me, the words welcoming and stable come to mind. For many reasons my life in the US was unstable, to the point where I couldn’t imagine my future, and that was terrifying.

I didn’t know what laws would come and go that would affect my family, and I was tens of thousands of dollars in debt thanks to a degree that had landed me several part time jobs, mostly being a servant for people with more money than me in the restaurant industry (English Majors rejoice!).

I never, ever found a full time job in the US in the four years after I graduated from college. And I guess I would have found one eventually, but I really can’t say for sure. I could have made coffee and served rich people and taught 1 class at a community college until I retired at 95 death.

Then I moved to Canada and 3 months later, found an actual writing job, the thing I actually went to school for and racked up all that debt for.

My life has fallen into place in Canada in the way that I always imagined, but couldn’t see as a reality in the US. There’s nothing wrong with the American Way, well maybe some things…but I feel like coming to Canada was the real beginning of my adult life, when I started feeling stable enough in the present to begin to see my future for the first time in my life.

Thanks for that Canada.

Best regards,
Will