2012-05-21

Goodbye, Canada

Tomorrow morning I start a long journey to my new home, back in the United States of America.

I suppose the rabid Stationary Waves readers among us will primarily be interested in the fact that this will by necessity involve a small lull in posting. I hope to keep it up, but will at the mercy of the available internet connections I access along the way. I intend to take some pictures of my journey, because I enjoy the slow evolution of visual landscapes that unfold over the course of thousands of miles of driving. Hopefully, I can include some pictorial evidence of this as I drive. No promises, though.

It's Victoria Day today. Let's talk about Canada.

Canada
I arrived in Canada in the summer of 2003. I Mother Earth's "Quicksilver Meat Dream" album had just come out, Paul Martin was Prime Minister. I didn't really understand what was going on in Canadian politics. The westward shift of Canadian culture hadn't quite yet begun, but you could see it coming.

I remember driving north to the Canadian border crossing at Coutts, Alberta. Montana is such a sparsely populated corner of the world, that as I reached the border near sundown it really felt as though I was driving off the end of the Earth. But when I crossed into a new country, I found that the universe still existed up here.

But it was definitely a parallel universe. Traffic signals were horizontal rather than vertical. Mexican food mysteriously disappeared. Prices were higher, incomes were lower. The weather was warm, but the sun was strangely dimmer, and the sky a paler shade of blue.

For people outside of North America, it may seem odd that there is a large cultural divide between Canada and the United States. Truthfully speaking, for most Americans it is incomprehensible that Canada has such a unique culture. This is, by the way, the reason Americans spend so much time joking about "the 51st state." They genuinely feel that there is little difference between themselves and their Canadian brothers and sisters. Canadians, however, feel otherwise.

The Canadian perspective on Americans very much reminds me of a middle sibling endlessly living in the shadow of the "mature" oldest child and the "cute" youngest child. It is classic Jan Brady syndrome; with no real identity of her own, she was forever tortured by her role as 2nd fiddle to Marsha.

Canada's day may very well come some day, but their culture is one collective sneer at their cruder and more successful southern neighbors. I say this without judgement, as a statement of fact.

That sneer has been pointed at me nearly every day for the past nine years. For as much as can be said about comparative systems, what I most look forward to about going back to the United States is not having to feel that sneer levied against me every time I step out my own front door.

The United States
Meanwhile, nine years is a long time to be away from home. In these particular past nine years, my country has changed significantly. I don't really know what to expect when I get there.

Well, that's not true. I've been back many times, and every time I go, I feel an undeniable sense of familiarity. It's a place where, at the least, my jokes are better understood. With a decent job and some good hobbies, I have a lot to look forward to. You may have also noticed that real estate prices took a slide recently. I hope to make the most of those comparatively lower prices.

Higher incomes, lower tax rates, lower prices, better opportunities. I have written a lot about the inferiority of the Canadian health care system. My most vehement critics will be happy to know that I don't just blather on endlessly about this stuff; I actually put my money where my mouth is. While I had one or two decent health care practitioners up here, I found the system as whole to be a total failure. For the sake of my own health, I am excited to return to a place where quality health care is offered on the market to a willing buyer.

Furthermore, to my great benefit, I happen to be moving to a place with an incredible music scene. Hopefully I can make the most of that.

Good Bye
I suppose this post was mostly just a bit of navel-gazing. I wanted to write down my thoughts as I thought them, one day before returning home. I can't wait to get back to the USA. I can't wait to get started on the next chapter of my new life.

When I return, I hope to return with some new music, a new site layout/design, and more useful blog posts. In the meantime, hang in there. I'll try to remain relevant in the interim. ;)