I Am Canadian (in a past life)

I have often joked that I must have been a horrible person in a past life to have the screwed-up life I have today. Maybe I killed Jimmy Hoffa. Or worse, maybe I brought smallpox to the New World and wiped out colonies of Native Americans. Perhaps I was a villanous saucy pirate wench. Clearly there is some karmic payback going on.

I have always believed in reincarnation, despite the fact I was raised Catholic. I don’t ascribe to the theory that my crappy life is all my fault because I’m a sinner. Nope, there has to be some deeper explanation for it.

Following my divorce, I saw a therapist for just over a year. One of her specialties was past life regressions. She hypnotized me and brought me back to the two most recent incarnations. Funny enough, neither were horrible, but explained a lot about some aspects of my life today.

The first life brought me back to Derby, England in the mid-1800s. I worked in a textile mill. (I actually googled Derby, England in the mid-1800s and it was a hotbed for textile production. Also for underpaying and oppressing women. So, much like modern American life.) I had a childhood sweetheart who left me for London to go to university and never came back. Supposedly I have encountered this man in my current life and I was ditched again for a career opportunity. I still feel connected to him in an unexplainable Neil deGrasse Tyson-cosmic way. I never married in that life, and died a lonely spinster after caring for my widowed mother. I don’t know if her name was Miss Daisy, or if I owned cats. Perhaps some sheep. You know, handy for operating a home loom.

Now the second life was much more interesting. I lived in Montreal around the turn of the 20th century. My husband made a good living managing a mill. I was a bit of a socialite and had one son, who later died in WWI, which explains why in my present life I am emotionally unattached to children. My husband was quite hot and we were very happy together, at least until he coerced me to move to the US. I was not happy and turned into quite the evil bitch until I was returned to my happy place, Montreal. Also a curious parallel to my modern life, minus the sexy husband.

Why this particular past life is significant is because I have always secretly longed to be Canadian. More specifically, I have visited Montreal at least ten times in my life and it always feels like home. I know my way around the city (and the Underground City) like it is the back of my increasingly wrinkled hand. I feel incredibly safe for being in a major city, so much so that I have no fear walking back to my hotel alone at 5 am (a story for a later date). I could never explain it, but it felt like I belonged there.

When I think of my future, I don’t see myself living in the U.S. Sure, I grew up with a mom who was born on the 4th of July and a dad who was a Marine. My house had more American flags than a car dealership holding a Presidents’ Day sale. Increasingly though, I feel like there is no future here. Why fight to save a country where women still only make $0.70 to every male dollar. Why would anyone want to enlist and fight for a country only to return and be told their home is in foreclosure, their job shipped overseas, you have to wait a year to see a doctor, and you can’t even get food stamps. Instead of the great Land of of Opportunity it is starting to feel like the last days of the Roman Empire, where everything is on fire and Congress is playing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on a fiddle. No, when I think about my future I see myself as a hipster wannabe/cougar with a great loft in Old Montreal. Or perhaps in a tiny house in Nova Scotia on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Fundy, which I never step out the front door to see for fear a strong wind will blow me off said cliff and I can’t swim.

There was a time in 2004 when I looked into the requirements for becoming a Canadian citizen. Like many sane Americans at the time, the prospect of another four-year term for George W. Bush just scared the Bejeezus out of me. My plan was foiled, though, because it was more complicated than I had hoped. Despite having a pair of grandparents born in New Brunswick, that wasn’t enough. My grandfather fought in WWI for Canada, but that, too, didn’t hold water. My surname had been horribly Americanized when my grandfather emigrated to the U.S., to the point where all of my siblings even mispronounce it, but I use the more French pronunciation because I’m loyal to my roots. Alas, still not enough. I was already married at the time, so a green card marriage was out of the question. I’m not even sure there is a market for American mail-order brides in Canada. I mean, what do we have to offer…freedom from the metric system?

I think there should be some kind of merit system. Or even a game show to win citizenship, because I would kick some Croatian Canadian-wannabe’s ass if that were the case. I humbly submit my faux Canadian resume:

  • I think Tim Hortons is superiour in every way to Dunkin’ Donuts.
  • It goes without saying that I am a rabid hockey fan.
  • I went to Canada for my college spring break. Twice.
  • I have a disproportionate amount of Celine Dion on my iPod.
  • Canadian beer is my beverage of choice (Molson Canadian, Export, or let’s face it, XXX. Although Alexander Keith’s is quite tasty as well.)
  • I visited Rome in 2005 and pretended to be Canadian (wearing Canadian clothes, being exceptionally polite and saying “aboot”, etc.) so terrorists wouldn’t target me.
  • I have voluntarily watched curling and know the rules (including how they use that funky compass-like measuring device).
  • I have a fleur-de-lis tattoo on my back. Je me souviens!
  • I own the entire CBC miniseries on Pierre Trudeau.
  • Malt vinegar belongs on French fries, not ketchup.
  • Ketchup flavored potato chips, however, are the bomb.
  • I almost spent a semester as an exchange student at McGill Law School, but because I was brainwashed I got married instead. This should still count.
  • I honeymooned in Canada. During an ice storm. In January.
  • I enjoyed the tv show “Due South” and owned a couple of seasons on DVD but lost them in my divorce settlement.
  • I preferred SCTV to Saturday Night Live.
  • I own every Great Big Sea cd (the greatest folk/sea shanty band of modern times. Perhaps the only.)
  • I own four articles of clothing from Roots, and they are my favourites.
  • My 9th cousin is Maurice Richard, the greatest hockey player of all time and one of the greatest heroes in French Canadian history. This alone should get me free poutine for life.

So, Canada, I’m asking very politely if you will let me in. Or at least hook me up with a hot Canadian for a visa. Just not a seal-clubbing one. (And while we’re at it, cut that shit out, eh?)

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