Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect my actual opinions.

June 09, 2004

Canadian weather...

...sucks. Really. Now I'm the first one to castigate people who complain about the weather -- you know, they complain in winter because it's too cold and snowy, and they complain in summer because it's too hot and humid. With very rare exception every Canadian winter is cold and snowy, and every Canadian summer is hot and humid. That's the norm. Surely, then, it's completely illogical to complain about it. It's like bitching that we have to keep breathing in and out to stay alive.

Except it's not quite like that, because the respiration thing is unavoidable (well, except by dying). The problem of Canadian weather can be solved quite easily, by... moving somewhere else. I was thinking about this earlier while walking home after dropping off my youngest at school, in what felt like 58 degrees C, and got to wondering what factors could compel me to go live in a different country.

Course, I have a bit of a head start on that question because I already did emigrate, from the UK to Canada. That time many factors contributed to the decision to move: I was stuck in a rut, a general malaise, I'd been living at home for a year after dropping out of college (I blame pot, partly, for annihilating my self-discipline, of which I had little to begin with), was toying with the idea of starting my own company but never really got anywhere with it. Add to that my parents' constant fighting, which often escalated to such a level that I'd sneak a bottle of whisky into my room and just sit there drinking, usually until I passed out. It was easier than trying to moderate the argument, because I had a hard time not taking sides. That said, over the years I developed an ability to distance myself from the conflict, and could often see why each person was angry. This was confusing because it had always been my approach to side with my mother, since she was the one who raised me, alone, for the first decade of my life, and I felt extremely protective towards her. But once I got into my teen years and started to mature intellectually I was able to see my father's point of view too, and could see how unreasonable my mother could be sometimes, how aggressive and domineering, especially when drunk. I think this is one of the reasons I can seem cold sometimes: I spent too many years having to resolve the conflicts in which I was an unwilling participant, yet in which I had an enormous emotional investment.

Anyway, that was one of the factors influencing my move to Canada. That and my mother's cancer, which ate away at the entire family at the same time it was eating her, and my father's infidelity, which felt like cheating on all of us, not just her. I wanted to get away, probably needed to, and I've always found drastic solutions much more effective than half-assed efforts. At that point my method of escape was through drink and the Internet, and that's how I met Caz. It was in an IRC chat room, my parents had been fighting and I'd been drinking, and I was getting myself in an emotional knot over the death of my nephew, who'd drowned a few years before in our pool (maybe I'll talk about that another time), and needed someone to talk with. I went into a room more or less at random and was immediately kicked out because of my hostname (it was a Christian room and my ISP was demon.co.uk, go figure), so I did a list of the users in the channel and one nickname jumped out at me: "korion." I recognised it, in a I-can't-quite-place-it kind of way, and so sent a message asking why I'd been kicked out. That's when my life changed.

So I had this girl in Canada I was crazy about, nothing to look forward to in England except more fights, more drinking, and, eventually, my mother dying. I desperately tried to think of a way to get out there, here, to Canada, so I could start again. That's when my dad offered to pay for me to go to Humber College, in Toronto, to take a journalism course. He taught there in the summers as part of their School for Writers, he knew the head of the program, and asked her if I'd be able -- despite not having a degree -- to take their two-year post-graduate journalism certificate. She agreed, if I got 90% or more on their entrance test. I got 97%, and was in. The next few months were a blur, and somehow I ended up one day in a room in residence, surrounded by boxes, and a whole new future ahead of me.

So that's what made me move country the first time. What else could make me do it? I think that was the point of this, originally... Well, perhaps if Canada reintroduced the death penalty. That sounds hysterical, but I'd rather emigrate than live in a country willing to allow such things to happen. The same applies for conscription. Call me a coward, if you like. I'm not dying so that politicians and their offspring might live. As for the weather, that's not quite enough to force me to consider living elsewhere (though sometimes it's close, particularly when I'm shovelling knee-deep snow). I think the most likely reason for doing it would be boredom. Unfathomable to most, perhaps, it being almost axiomatic that "your country is your country," that anyone who doesn't feel patriotic or nationalistic has something wrong with them, that one should have an innate attachment to all things Canadian, or American, or British. It's not true. I'm a British citizen, and soon to be a Canadian one too, but I'm not "British" in the grand sense of top hats and imperialism, and nor will I ever be "Canadian," as much as I like hockey and good government. I'm a human being living on planet Earth, and my innate attachment is to my fellow man. I'll be me whatever country I live in. You might think that's unpatriotic, but I couldn't care less. Patriotism is tribalism wrapped in sophistry, "the veneration of real estate above principles," in George Jean Nathan's words, and I'd rather be thought of as principled than patriotic any day.

Wow, all that from Canadian weather. I'd like to thank the 0.18% of readers who made it this far, Bob and Harvey, and the Academy. Unfortunately I have no real point and no great truth to reveal. Sorry.


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