I don’t know how to write this, cause in a way it surprises me. It feels weird saying. It has been rolling around inside for years.
The first tinglings of it hit me in the Spring of 2017, listening to Yo Yo Ma play Appalachian Spring.
Not sure how to say it, because I guess I don’t know where to start. Or… er… where it starts?
First off, I am not Canadian, I’m American, like my dad. Mom’s whole family goes back in Canada to sometime before the 1800s. Dad’s goes back down there to the late 1600s.
All I’ve ever really known is FEELING Canadian, but just not being a Canadian.
Over the years it became kind of a joke, when I’d be in a group of folks saying negative things about our neighbours to the south, and I’d smile to myself and watch their faces as I said… “I’m American, eh”.
I’d like laugh, and say I understood, agreed even, tell a tale or 2 maybe about my American cousins, and make them laugh, perhaps.
Tell them bout my Great Uncle Cabbage, Great Uncle Goat, maybe the story of how dad shot the snake dangling over Great Grandma’s head when he was a teenager, taking out the stove-pipe and practically her head. Tell them about how I’m supposed to be a descendant of the pirate Black Beard. Maybe bout the old abandon Governor’s mansion we’d pass by. Tell them about my southern roots, and living in a dinky trailer till I was 2 and a half.
Wouldn’t mention the white only drinking fountains, or other stories I rarely say out loud to anyone. Things I know. Things people have told me, about things they’ve heard people say. Things people say, that they shouldn’t say. Not about Sundown towns, or the boys coming out of that corner store that hot summer day, when mom told us to lock our doors, cause the boys weren’t white.
But that’s not what this is about. Or maybe it is?
Actually, what I wanted to say, is that since about round 9/11 I guess I realized I was ashamed of my Americanness. About the oblivious arrogance of my kin, not withstanding their racism. Well, not all of them, but some.
You know, I went to the old Civil War battle sites, saw the battleships in Norfolk harbour, and where the Wright Brother’s took their first flight. Drove through the Great dismal swamp, and all through the Blue Ridge, and watched Humpback Whales breach the waves off Cape Cod.
Seen the Hollywood sign, and Anaheim. Danced the Can Can in San Diego, in Capezio’s to New York, New York, and tap danced to Puttin’ on the Ritz, in L.A.
Even watched my ex-husband order whiskey with Coke, and laughed when the waitress said “Why”?
See, thing is though, I all this time thought that United States of America was invincible, untoppable, unstoppable. Arrogant, shifty, loud, too proud, sure. But somehow beyond the reach of evil entities foreign and domestic. Frustratingly 1st in everything, even occasionally blawdy HOCKEY! Damn Americans.
But, lately, I’m terribly afraid almost every day, more and more, that maybe I’m wrong.
So, lately, over the last few years, this sense of love for that god-damn place has grown. Like, almost as if there is a part of that place… inside me… too.
And I worry about them. All of them.
And I hold my breath, because there is little I can do to stop them, to help them, to get them to see all the things about them, I’ve seen. The good, the bad, and even the ugly. That through all that, after all that, even with all that.