On the eve of our great Pilgrimage south of the border, I’m a bit apprehensive as I realize just how long I’ve been away.
I’ve lived in Canada exactly ten years this month and with every passing year, I have found myself becoming more entrenched here and more removed from all things USA. At times I’ve felt guilty about this but busy raising kids and just living, I’ve not had a lot of time to dwell on the growing distance between me and home.
I’ve ventured over the border in short hops over the years but nothing extensive. This trip is different because we’re spending quite a lot of time in different places and I will be seeing my home country keenly through the eyes of my (very opinionated, very Canadian)teenage children.
We are visiting some of the most iconic sites the United States has to offer: Washington DC, nation’s capital with its monuments and museums – not to mention some of my old stomping grounds on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Also, New York City with…well, what can I say…it’s the Big Apple. More than anything, I want to take them to the World Trade Center site – a place that forever altered the hearts and minds of my country.
We left the States right after 9/11 – a move that was more coincidence than planned but in the years immediately after that fateful day, I noticed a monumental shift in the world’s perception of the U.S. Now, having been away so long, I know that my perception has changed as well.
If the foreign press is to be believed, Americans are a bunch of close-minded zealots armed to the teeth. It’s very hard to listen for ten years without having some of it sink in; it’s almost like a Stockholm Syndrome kind of thing. Have I forsaken my American roots? Am I now more Canadian than American? How will I be perceived there? How will perceive my countrymen?
I’ll cross the border tomorrow with my Canadian husband and my Canadian kids who have never worn the Stars and Stripes; I think they have maple syrup in their veins instead of blood. I will be piloting a car with Ontario license plates. I have something of America left in me: my mid-Atlantic twangy accent that, as hard as I might try, I cannot shed.
I hope we all have a great vacation. I hope I can show my family all that is wonderful about my home town, my favourite cities, my home country. USA, here we come!
First stop: Cincinnati, 8 + hours from Toronto. Overnight rest only…