Canada Day: A Love Letter to the Strong and Free

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“I want to know your young and your old, your poets and your prostitutes. I want to talk with you through your ugly secrets and walk with you in your glory moments. I want to hold your hand.”

By Idelette McVicker | Twitter: @idelette

There was a son in my belly that day when I walked up to Judge Day and he announced me, Citizen. I was wearing a brown maternity dress from Old Navy with black boots and a smile. Tears streamed down my face.

We’d started dating in 1999 and it only took me eight years to finally say, I do.  You understood. I just needed time.

I remember when we met, that first time, in August. I fell in love with your flower baskets, hanging from every lamppost in downtown Victoria. Or maybe it was the seaplane ride, from Fraser River to Pacific Ocean. My eyes strained to take in all the new-to-me West Coast-ness: trees and rocky beaches and cedar logs.

You wooed me with hydrangeas, marigolds and petunias in The Empress hotel garden and I took photo after photo after photo. It had been a long time since I had seen so many flowers; that many colours. My eyes hungry for this kind of beauty.

Our first summer together, I fell in love with the fruit section at the IGA in Davis Bay. Also with your crisp mornings and forest walks and the sighting of a real bear—smaller and different than my foreign brain imagined—in Grandma Linda’s garden.

Then there was Richmond, where we first lived. On those long days when Scott worked and I knew nobody, I could park at the Chinese mall and hear familiar sounds. I watched the steam come off the bowls of beef noodle soup and I was completely thankful that you held these divergent worlds in your arms. My worlds.

On our first anniversary, I remember driving along Highway #99 at 10pm on a summer’s evening in the pink afterglow of a glorious sunny day, not quite needing headlights. I laughed as our Jeep sped along into a day this long that could hug this many hours with this much light.

Living with you finally meant “access” … Access to, what felt like, everything and anyone I could ever want to hear or see or read. I loved that people want to be close to you; that they want to come here, visit here, tour here, speak here, sing here.

I fell more in love with you, driving across the Burrard Street bridge into Downtown Vancouver. Maybe it’s the mountains and the water, or how the colours—rain, gray or shine—play off your skin in that place. (You are so beautiful right there.) What I don’t tell you is how much you remind me of Cape Town and how, in that spot, I feel both at home and so very far away from home.

You understand, though, that a daughter will always love her mother and there’s no denying the breast on which I was nursed into being.

Now, 13 years into our story, I am still grateful: for Starbucks drive-throughs and pink peonies. For samosas on one side of the street and sushi on the other. For sweet, plump blueberries.

O, and lest I forget: for indoor heating.

(You know how to keep a girl’s heart beating warm for you …)

Now that we’re raising three young Canadians together, I get to see many new sides to you.

There’s the school playground where our children swing and run with the world, as if it’s the most natural thing on this planet. Some days I can watch them there and remember the playground I come from, and soft tears well …

You know how I love your big embrace; how you’re always gathering more sons and daughters from faraway places. “Diversity” is the pet name I whisper to you in the night.

Strong and free, you certainly are. Not jealous. Not threatened by the strangers at our table–like calling a cloth a “lappie,” or a sausage a “worsie.” Or when I teach our children to say “dankie” and “asseblief.” You decided long ago that this is how you want to live. Not tight and closed off, but open and inviting.

There’s room for many playlists on our iPod, you say. Afrikaans or French after long days when I light candles and sit on the red couch, kids safely tucked into bed. Kapungala or Taiwanese pop on days when I want to remember other times, on other continents.

Because of your love, I’ll cleave to you and stick to you and take our children to skating lessons. I’ll cheer for the Canucks and drive on the right side of the road. I’ll plant flowers I have no clue about and read the stories you grew up with. (Confession: I have yet to read Anne of Green Gables with my girls.)

You encourage me to go on many global adventures and bring them home. There’s space on our walls for Africa and Australia, London and Beijing.

Ironically, the more my heart expands, the more I want to explore every inch of your 9.9 million square kilometers. I want to kiss your Toronto and Montreal, your Saskatoon and The Pas. I want to go as deep north as you would let me go.

I want to know your young and your old, your poets and your prostitutes. I want to talk with you through your ugly secrets and walk with you in your glory moments. I want to hold your hand. I want to know the beating of your heart and the smell of your breath in your back alley mornings. I want to be there for it all.

I believe it means: I love you.

Happy Birthday, beautiful Canada.

__________________________________

Dear SheLoves friends,

I get to be back in Victoria today to celebrate Canada Day. I’ll admit–I’m all warm and fuzzy, and even a bit PMS-ey, so I’d love to hear:

  • What are some of your favourite things about Canada?
  • Or Canadians?
  • Or being Canadian?
  • What are some of your favourite Canadian memories?
  • If you had to write a love letter to your own country, what would you say?
__________________________________

About Idelette:
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women.

I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth.

My word for the year is “Roar,” but I have learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice.

I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago.

I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet@idelette.

Image credit: Forest, via Victoria Johnston on Pinterest.

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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