My dad was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on March 17th, 1930. I wonder if it was St. Patrick’s day back then. Weird thought first thing in the morning, but if you’re scoring at home, the answer is yes, it’s been celebrated since 461 AD. You’re welcome.
In the 50’s my dad moved to Chicago for his residency and in order to practice medicine in the United States, became a citizen in 1955. For the next 23 years he lived in and around the Detroit MI area, right across the Detroit river from Windsor. Then in 1978 we moved to Mississippi. 1019 miles from the Great White North.
I bring up this historical residence account as it applies to what makes us who we are. Am I technically half Canadian or due to my dad’s renouncing his Canadian citizenship 16 year prior to my birth or is my love a hockey and curling force appropriated. It’s important for me to know if I’m an accidental Canadian. Mostly because this allows me to be more of a bandwagon fan during the Olympics but also in case there’s a way for me to work the tax code in my benefit (there’s not. I asked Ted).
As my dad got older he became more of a Canadian of Convenience and it gave me great pleasure to tell him he had jumped off that boat already and he couldn’t just swim back when he wanted to. I really didn’t care, it was just fun to give him grief.
Just as I’m an accidental Canadian, I’m also an accidental Southerner. Born in Michigan, raised in Mississippi, spending summers in Canada and living the last 30 years in Louisiana. A mutt of cultural appropriating convenience with a rip cord to pull whenever things get particularly “Southern” aka, when I’m reminded daily that we place last in every US News and World report category.
I do long for a place to call my own. I’d guess we all do. To say I’m a “Louisianan” take me or leave me. But I’m afraid that ship has sailed. It’s like joining a high school in the 11th grade. It will never be your alma mater, only where you graduated from.
Some people have the ability to embrace and become. I’m not that guy. I’ve always felt an outsider and I always will. That’s not a woe is me but rather a matter of fact. To be part you have to feel a part, and I’ve never felt like I was from Detroit, Mississippi or Louisiana. None of them seemed to have took.
Instead, I’m a sum of those parts. Multiple slices of suburbia and culture just like a lot of you. A euphemism here, a bit of pride there. A piece of LSU brought through a University of Michigan upbringing.
Or maybe, I’m just Canadian after all.