People Ask Me “What’s different for you between Canada and the US? What are American / Canadian cultural differences?”
This conversation happened every week, when I drove strangers (soon to be friends) in my car between Boston and Montreal.
IN the late ’90s, when I was in grad school in Vermont I was friends with a few Montrealers. They were francophones; their work was not about differance. But there were a couple of other Canadians at the school, native English speakers, who made it clear that they were Americans, too, though not from the US. Some of their writing contained comparisons between the US and Canada, certain pronunciations and spellings of words, or wourds. And brands of food: for instance Oreo cookies sold in Canada are made by Mr. Christie and not Nabisco. Of inferior quality, I must note, but having the ability to kill you more slowly with the poly-sorbitant hydrogenated concentated oils from the peel of a banana rather than the requisite rim of an old tire.
I queried my pack, my Montrealers, about this and they said, “Yes, this is the difference.” Maybe something was lost in translation. It could not be so superficial. Maybe it was just the beginning of the conversation to be continued. But I dropped out shortly after for non-Canadian reasons, and so, perhaps, missed out on further discussions.
TEN YEARS LATER I began my own exploration of the differences between my giant country directly south of the quieter northern neighbor. Thus began conversations with people from everywhere, on my drives from my life in the US to my new life in Canada. For the first couple of years the drives were pretty much a darkened solo effort. It wasn’t until I looked for the hundreth time at Craigslist, making yet another electronic purchase for the magic lottery number of $20 that I finally saw the rideshare link, which thus changed my life forever. Continue reading “Arrival”