A Love Letter to Canada
After spending so many years with you, I felt that a break was in order. It wasn’t that you pushed me away, but rather that I wanted something different. Don’t feel bad, it wasn’t you. It was me. After travelling abroad for these last two years, I find myself reminiscing of the times we had together. I know I didn’t give you the appreciation you deserved, so I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how I truly feel.
I took for granted your cultural acceptance, your tolerant nature, your progressive values, your clean air, and getting lost in your expansive landscapes. It’s true what they say: “you don’t know what you’ve got, 'till it’s gone”. Fortunately, you are still there, but the metaphor resonates within me. Just know that even though I was so far away, I still tried to connect with you. I came back several times, but it just wasn’t the same. It wasn’t that you changed. I changed. So many things happened to me abroad, experiences that I couldn’t get with you. I’m sorry if that hurts, but it’s true.
With that being said, I miss the crisp, cold air that makes me cough when I first step outside on a calm winter morning. When I left, I thought that was something I would never miss but when it’s 30+ degrees every day, I tend to crave those moments when I can’t seem to stop the sweat from dripping into my eyes. When I am here, on the other side of the world, sometimes I feel like staying inside all day because I can’t seem to get a proper breath when I go outside. You may think I’m joking, but look up the air quality index for places like Bangkok, Hanoi, Saigon and Beijing. Don't get me wrong, these are beautiful, vibrant cities with a deep culture and an abundance of modernism blended together seamlessly. But yes, sometimes it's difficult to breath and that makes me miss you that much more.
I miss toonie Tuesdays at KFC. I miss the half chicken dinner at Swiss Chalet with extra chalet sauce. I miss a good A&W burger, with the best onion rings and of course, a root beer. Although I don't drink very often, I find myself wanting to grab a 2-4 and head north to go camping. Throw a few back by the fire, listening to the waves against the shores of a pristine lake. I miss your lakes. I often lived next to one with you. I mean, you’re Canada, you hold one fifth of the world’s freshwater lakes, so it would be hard not to put up base near one, eh? Sure, I still spend much of my time close to oceans, but I tend to be frantically looking around for jellyfish (or sharks! I know, I'm crazy) rather than enjoying a cool, peaceful swim. It’s not that I don’t love where I am now. I wouldn’t have based our business here if I didn’t. But this letter isn’t about me. It’s about you. You have something I can’t find anywhere else in the world. I may have discovered many excellent varieties of coffee, most notably in Vietnam. I’ll even bring you some, but still... nothing, simply nothing, beats a Tim Horton’s double double.
I miss going to a Raptors game and cheering on my favorite team. “We the North” clearly represents how I feel as a fan of my most beloved Toronto franchise. Being the only team from Canada causes those south of the border to look at us as outcasts and not worthy of the elite NBA status. Sure, they have fallen short of expectations, but what teams haven’t? Look at the Clippers, not to mention the Knicks. People fail to see that we’ve been a top 3 team in the East for the last four years. Who invented basketball in the first place? Oh yeah, a Canadian.
I grew up watching the Maple Leafs and whether you like hockey or not, it gives people something to talk about at work, other than work. The hockey bug never really bit me the way it did most Canadians, but it still amazes me how so many people can stay loyal to a team that had been so consistently bad over the years. The team is still one of the most successful franchises in the NHL, even during years when they were statistically one of the worst in the league. Maybe it’s just a credit to true sports fans, or maybe it’s more than that. I’ll never know. You may think I am getting off track but sports still has a lot to do with you and another one of the things that you have that’s not readily available to me since I left.
I feel like I left before I got the chance to really know you and I regret that. You may still have your problems, but you know what they are and I can see you working towards correcting them. Things may never be perfect, but I can now say that I’ve seen the alternatives. The facts speak for themselves, NOT the “alternative” ones. You combat terrorism with tolerance and inclusion. As a result, you are minimally affected by the same issues other countries are experiencing. You open your doors for those with nowhere to go, setting an example for the world, which couldn’t have made me prouder of you. Many people return to Canada after travelling abroad just to take advantage of your healthcare system. I don’t want to appear like I am using you, but don’t hold it against me if I do the same.
Ironically enough, we even named our business after one of your biggest staples, Maple Syrup. What I wouldn’t give for a stack of pancakes with Canadian maple syrup or rather my mother-in-laws french toast with a healthy portion of the sweet stuff. Our logo is partly derived from your national flag, of which I couldn’t be more proud. I made sure to mark my bag while I travel because I want you to know that I remember where I come from. You would be offended if you knew how many times people mistake me as coming from America. I put them in their place quickly and make sure to point out the differences. There is no need for you to get jealous, believe me. I still say sorry every time someone bumps into me or I bump into them. This is the Canadian way.
To be honest, I never gave you the credit you deserved. If it took me leaving to understand all that you have to offer, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I hope that I continue to make you proud while traveling abroad and hope that you’ll welcome me back with open arms. There’s a reason why your immigration website crashed when Trump got elected. There’s nowhere else in the world quite like you.
Until we meet again.
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