Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Canada

This is my country, the one my parents chose over 33 years ago, the one I was born in, the one I think about when I'm somewhere else and homesick. This is where I huddled in bed as a child with my sisters, having impromptu sleepovers when our parents had asked us long ago to go to sleep; where I learned to ride a bike in the yard of the Catholic school on our street, my dad holding on to the back, holding, holding and then letting go and leaving me pedal off; where I met my first best friend and felt the rush of little girl secrets exchanged, of exclusivity, then had my first fight, spoke my first bold insult, felt my blood rush to my head with anger and shame as I stood alone in yard with the minutes of recess dwindling away and the wind whipping at my face, wanting to go back inside and do addition and subtraction; where I memorized Quran while sitting on a mossy rockface near Perth Ontario, reciting verses of Yaseen and looking at the trees and the lake in front of me; where I decided I loved hockey after Mr. Falls took us down to the library to watch the Olympics, where I watched Peter Forsberg score that goal and win the medal for someone else and felt my first of many sports heartbreaks; where I wrote my first rhyming poem and had it shown to the principal and got an extra sticker and decided I always wanted to write; where I stayed up nights finishing my writing portfolio for arts school in eighth grade, reading and re-reading the character profiles, the poems, the short story and agonizing over words, replacing "white" with "ivory" and switching back to "white" before finally printing; where I spent 4 years sleeping and reading and writing on the 90 minute bus ride to arts school instead of going to the school 10 blocks away; where Mr. Fitzpatrick gave us books to read and told us to study their tone and their voices, and I fell in love with "The Shipping News" and "The Wars" and wanted to write like Timothy Findlay; where I met Katherine and May and Brenda, whom I don't see for months or sometimes years but still fall back into easy conversation with when I do, and love like sisters, and hope and pray for regularly; where I met M at my sisters Katb Kitab; where I fell into easy conversation with him and knew, and waited some more and still knew; where I watched my other sister become a mom and carried my niece and nephew for the first time and learned to bottle feed and change diapers and pj's and hush a crying baby and tiptoe like I'd never tiptoed before.

Where I grew up and became who I am, and am still trying to become who I want to be.

It's not perfect here, and we make mistakes and maybe don't treat each other as well as we'd hoped we would, but at least we have that hope, have that intention to be fair and good with anyone who wants to come live here.

Happy Birthday.

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