Happy Birthday, Baby.July 1, 2011
I was sitting by myself with a beer tonight, listening to some lonely songs, and I remembered it was your birthday. I got to thinking of how it used to be between us, back when I was your girl, when you used to bring me sweet little gifts of scrub and stone, air so fresh my nose would sting, and boys who knew how to hunt and drive pick-ups.
I resisted your charms for a long time. Not so much Canadian, I would say, as Newfoundlander. After all, my people were the last to your party. We had a rebel flag. We needed a boat to get to you. You were cold and didn’t pay enough attention to us. Arrogant, you still claimed me for your own. When I left you, finally, I took your name, to help make my way through strange countries. Shelley the Canadian. Canada Teacher. I gave up trying to explain Newfoundland in the first month. Like a chastened wife I would offer your name as my identity – where I belonged.
Recently, I was asked to participate in a blog that offers social commentary about you written from the point of view of those who had loved you and still managed to leave you. Two of the bloggers were smart, funny men who I respected. I was wildly flattered to have been asked. Yet, when I sat down to take you to task for your faults, I found I couldn’t do it.
I still love you. I have never stopped loving you. Only after I left you did I realize how much of you is deep in my soul. I am a polite, easy-going, open-minded, down-to-earth cliché and because of those things you made me, I have managed to carve out an international life.
Yes, I have found a new love. He won me with his hot, spicy tongue and how special he made me feel. So many things are easier with him. Everytime I think I know him, he shows me something new. Sometimes, he infuriates me with his different ways and sets my heart to longing for the familiarity of you. I don’t admit this often. But, I can tell you this because I know that you would have me back. That is enough to get me through, sometimes- just knowing that you are out there, large and quiet, with your arms around so many people I love.
Don’t forget me, Canada. Promise me that there will be moments when you’ll crack open a Molson, put on some Hip and remember our good times. Promise me you’ll remember the way the salt water air curls my hair. If you promise me, I’ll come and see you sometime.