You’d never know. Not by the color of my skin or hair. You’d never know by the way I walk..or by the way I talk….or the way I live my daily life.
Altho I carry an American passport…and I have a certificate to declare myself as such – I am not an American. Not in my heart.
Never – when I first came to this country to study – did I imagine that this would someday become my home. A few months grew into a few years..and a few years grew into decades…and here I am. 30+ years in this house..in this town..in this state and country. Three children. Two dogs. A husband. A community. A life. And forever..and still – I’m an outsider…a landed immigrant…nothing more or other than that.
My first fourth of July here was the likes of nothing I’d ever quite experienced. After a day of festivities..there was the night. Amidst the throngs of thousands of people – we secured and settled into a little spot along the Charles River. An indescribable buzz…an uncertain excitement..an energy. A sense of pride in ‘country’ and its celebrated birthday – that I’d never known before.
The crowd stood – hats off..hands to hearts – as the band began with the national anthem. Such a display of patriotism..of love. Unheard of – in my world. We Canadians took pride in our country..but our allegiances – when I was a child – were to our Queen.
The air was filled with the sound of the Boston Pops and their music. One happy jingle..following by another. There was dancing..and flag waving..and just plain joyous good fun. And then..out of the distant black darkness...and with the 1812 Overture playing in the background.. arose the most perfectly orchestrated display of shooting stars and lights. As the momentum gathered.. the crowd roared and cheered. It was both – for me – terrifying and mesmerizing. The sound..the light. I was rendered speechless...spellbound and captivated by the deafening roar of the closing gun salute..while the fireworks – one after another – lit up the night sky.
Yes – it’s true. I am an upstanding card-carrying citizen of the United State of America. I have been now for 12 years. It being America’s birthday – has made me stop and think and wonder. What is it that now makes me ‘American’? What happened to my Canadian history and heritage and heart? Will I ever come to think of this country – that has housed and clothed and fed me for all of these years – as home? Will there come a time when I no longer regard myself as a distant observer…one who is looking from the outside in? When will this ‘landed immigrant’ – call this place her own???
I’ve learned to love the small town parades. I’ve learned to ooh and aah and gasp – as the fireworks etch the night sky with their brilliant color and light. I’ve grown to appreciate and embrace all this country has to offer.
But still..deep down inside – I am and will always be – that girl whose roots are to the north of this border…who speaks both English and French…who knows nothing of parades and fireworks. Forever and always – I’ll remain – a Canadian-at-heart.