I filled my Civic to overflowing, squeezed my family, and started off on The Great Adventure of a roadtrip honeymoon. I was relying on technology to keep my friendships alive across the continent. I was massively homesick. I was culturally mugged. I was ridiculously lonely.
Two years have passed now. I begin my third year as a North Carolinian transplanted to British Columbia. As bizarre as it may be to acknowledge this passage of time, today marks my third Canada Day in Canadaland and today I’m celebrating Canada. Yes, I’m celebrating the British North America Act of 1867 that combined three separate colonies into one British Empire country. Yes, I’m celebrate the maple leaf and the hockey sticks and Tim Hortons that define this grand land.
But more than the celebration of a country (I am counting down until Friday’s holiday when I can wear my stars and stripes in celebration of MY country), I am celebrating the mountains and water that I immediately fell in love with, I’m celebrating the berry season that makes all that rain worthwhile, I’m celebrating the triumphs of integrating into a new country, and – most of all – I am celebrating the Canadians who have welcomed me into their country, listened to my homesick monologues, welcomed the new girl, and helped me claim a new normal.
In painful irony, as I celebrate two years in Canada, I am facing my first experience being on the staying side of a friend moving away. My sympathy/empathy for my NC friends is increasing exponentially as I have to bid a tearful adieu to one very dear friend who has been part of this journey-to-Canada since before it began: we double-dated with our boyfriends-now-husbands, we commiserated over shared experiences, we planned weddings just seven months apart, we spontaneously took adventures and embraced excitement. Now? Now she’s moving away.
But it’s a beautiful poetry, isn’t it? I can celebrate Canada Day as I celebrate how far I’ve come since my first lonely Canada Day when I couldn’t figure out kilometers to miles, when the grocery store scared me (have you seen the debit machine?!), when soothers/runners/washrooms were foreign words (pacifier/tennis shoes/bathroom), and when I was sure I had “American” tattooed across my forehead making every local mock me. Instead, my immigration paperwork is complete, my friend is moving away, and I’m making a Canada Flag dessert for a BBQ tonight.
Happy Canada Day!