my year as a bronze god.

the difference between the way the united states and canada each view nationalism has always puzzled me. growing up in canada i was accustomed to seeing the iconic maple leaf everywhere — incorporated into the logos of fast food chains like mcdonalds and pizza hut, tattooed on people’s arms, in the trees.

in the united states that connection to home is not as innate. patriotism often comes as a knee-jerk reaction to a world or local event, to be seen only on american independence day or following a terrorist attack. then signs will start appearing on lawns, proclaiming the great nation, susceptible to nothing. it’s so transitory (certainly there’s a difference between wearing a t-shirt that reads, these colors don’t run, a couple of times a year and inserting colored pigments into punctured skin to create permanent patterns) and somewhat fabricated.

perhaps it’s the northern country’s underdog spirit that gives its citizens an authentic sense of community. there’s something in our blood, especially after we move away maybe, that forms affinities to actors and bands simply because we possess a shared homeland. i cannot explain fully why i instantly fell in love (i mean, more or less; work with me) with avril lavigne’s music upon first viewing her video for complicated, weeks before i knew she was born in ontario. or why the presence of sarah polley increased my appreciation for the sweet hereafter (a legitimately great film) and go (likely underrated but in no way a legitimately great film). why is it that i feel the need to comment when one’s nationality matches my own, like continuously mentioning how ryan gosling and i are brethren?

the only thing i can come up with — and i understand that this is far-fetched, not to mention a bit scary that i actually believe this — is that there exists a current that keeps us in tune with each other’s movements and empathetic to each other’s struggles to succeed in a country smaller than our own, but more populous and — we may as well admit it — more important.

i’ve lived in the southeastern united states for over two decades. obviously the area has influenced me quite a bit, but it remains at arm’s length. at the same time, my birth country is distant to me, as if covered in gauze.

a little over a year ago i began a campaign to connect further with my adopted terrain by visiting a tanning bed two times a week on average. i’ve since ended that misguided attempt, my skin returning to its previous northern light. for a little while though my stomach was a few shades darker. i’m not entirely certain why this part of my body darkened more easily, but i’m sure there is evidence of fat tanning quicker but i’m unwilling to discover that truth.

rather than bringing me closer to this place though, it robbed me of thirty dollars a month, and i still, from time to time, was met with the you’re-not-from-around-here vibe, which wasn’t leavened by my compulsion to repeatedly listen to one great city! (about winnipeg, manitoba) by the weakerthans or sing alanis morissette songs at karaoke night.

it’s my destiny, then, to remain a stranger in a strange land, wherever i happen to be, detached from everything and thus able to comment unbiasedly. it’s also my destiny — or perhaps my birthright — to blind everyone that looks directly at me, sort of like the sun or a greek god.

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One Response to “my year as a bronze god.”

  1. forever young. « the vignettist Says:

    […] very pale. save for a yearlong period when i was regularly visiting a tanning bed, the veins in my chest have been easily […]

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