I attended the Canadian citizenship ceremony on Friday, October 27, and now am a citizen. I guess everyone has their own story about their path to citizenship. Mine seems pretty ordinary. I was born and raised in the United States, married a Canadian in 2006, and got landed immigrant status (permanent residency) in 2008. Until then, I had been back and forth to Canada. It just so happened my dad was very ill with Parkinsons, so I went down to the states in the summers of 2007 and 2008 to help care for him. In 2008 he was in a nursing home, and Mom and I went to see him twice a day, morning and lunch, and helped to feed him and, if he was having a good day, walk him around the beautiful Indiana summer gardens near the patio of the facility. I got my permanent residency papers and accepted into Canada in November 2008. Just in time to vote Obama in (his first term, and I helped vote him in his second term too). In 2008, Indiana turned from a red state to a blue state for the first time since LBJ’s election. I was proud to take part in that moment.
It took me a while to apply for citizenship. Morgan and I had entertained the idea of moving to the states for a while, but because Trump got elected, and the path the states has been on since, neither of us wants to go there unless it’s for visits. I understand that among the ugly corruption happening in government today, there’s also beauty and goodness among others. Jimmy Carter recently stated that the US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery. Carter is 99. He has brain cancer. And he makes more sense than most political figures. He’s part of the beauty and goodness that still exists. And I want to believe that others are like him and we’re not on a complete slide into further dystopia.
This is not why I became a Canadian citizen. Canada is also on the same course as the United States politically. It’s just where I live, where I will continue to live, and it makes sense for me to become a citizen here. I want to vote, of course, too.
Every once in a while I watch movies like Elizabethtown and Green Fried Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias that hasten back to my more nostalgic days in the US. There’s a certain tragic, weird, bizzare, and hateful side of my home country. But rising out of that are also triumphs, hope, love, and brightness in the US. I haven’t felt as much of that volatile political scene here (though it’s close) nor the other side where there’s a certain familial, loving culture I felt growing up. I feel culture-less now. My family is spread apart around the country and now world. People who made me feel safe when I was young have passed on or headed there. I still have a ritual of drying half-runners out for shucky beans, sitting on a porch with fairy lights, and calling family every weekend. Usually it’s Mom and my brother. Sometimes my kids, but they are so busy with their own burgeoning families, and it’s sweet. We do talk almost every day through chat, and share life stories and photos.
Becoming a citizen to me was emotional in one sense, and that was the realization that the 218 others becoming citizens that day had their own tragic or beautiful stories. Audible cries burst forth after the oath. I can’t begin to know where everyone else came from, only it was a lovely diverse crowd. I guessed that many were escaping war-torn or other abusive situations and coming to Canada. Afterward, Morgan and I had a little celebration at a cozy pub in Fall River. These times are uplifting amidst all the terrible things in the world going on today. I am aware of wars, the rise of hate and discrimination, the losses of freedom, the rise of dictators and oligarchies. At the same time, I am aware of the little things in every day life that make me happy. Autumn, for instance. It is peak season now. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get snow. The baby pheasants are now roaming the yard occasionally. The summer deer are bucks. The burning bush is bright red and has dropped a carpet of dark sunset-colored leaves leading from our front yard to the back. I’ve made a pot of chili on the stove, a fire in the wood stove, and tonight is Halloween, a last sunshine-filled but cold day before our first snow. Tonight we’ll turn on our party lights out front, we’ve hung our skeleton, and we’ve set out four sugar pumpkins on the retaining wall. I’m also grateful for the mainstays—Morgan, of course, my best friend and long-time partner; a steady (so far) job that I like doing, along with a great and fair manager, who will go so far to bring soup to sick employees; a solid home; a chance to go with renewal energy in many aspects of our lives; and so on.
Dad used to tell us kids that we should never get too attached to things. I’ve always thought about that lesson and it taught me not to become too materialistic. He said, “One day, everyone and everything you love will be gone.” It was not said with negativity but with a voice of realism, that we should accept this and prepare for it. I have always tried to, but most Bad Things that happened in my life, and some were quite Bad, happened long ago. I haven’t forgotten those times, but I have disconnected from them completely. I know that at any moment anything could happen to any one of us, and it could turn our world upside-down. The older I get, the more I realize this. Doesn’t really matter if I’m in Canada or the US or anywhere else, but I am glad I am here. This is my home.