#SwitchersRemorse: Independence, Nationality and The 4th of July

 

At the finish of the Tour de France with my friend Kim.
 
I didn’t have a say when we picked up our life and moved away.  It wasn’t the first time I’d had to adjust to a big cross-country move.  I came home from my job at a performing arts camp one day and my parents casually told me, “We’re moving to New York.” and then they braced themselves for my epic meltdown.  I never was very good when it came to change.  I think I had a bit of a freak out, but the reaction wasn’t quite as earth-shattering as my parents had expected.  

I have now lived in the United States for longer than I did in my homeland just like my father, who at the time we moved had lived in Canada longer than he had in his homeland.  I still feel Canadian because my roots are Canadian, but I also feel American because it’s where I live and raise my family.  

My dad gave up the life of an academic for the life in the business world.  My mom was ready for a change from our life in a small Canadian university town and this was a great opportunity. I remember the first day he went to work from our house in the United States and I saw him in a button down shirt and dress pants.  It might as well have been a clown costume for as shocking a sight it was for us kids. Lately, though I’ve heard him express a little switcher’s remorse. He is frustrated with things about this country that are so hard to change, politics, prisons, health care, and I hear him mourn the fact that his children and grandchildren are “so American”.  

I don’t have switcher’s remorse.  I, the one who hated change. I, the lone one in the family who is still an alien according to my credentials in this country. I, the one who went back to Canada for college, and hope my children will too.  I don’t have switcher’s remorse. I love my home land, but I wouldn’t trade my American life.  True: I wish that parts of American culture and lifestyle were more European, more socially aware, more “survival of the fittest” and less “survival of the richest”, a greater appreciation for joie de vivre, and respect for the arts.  On the other hand, I think we’re growing.  The United States is still a young country.  It is like a toddler compared to Europe and the ancient cultures of Asia.  You don’t give up your toddler because they eat dirt, throw tantrums, and keep you up at night.  You hold their hand, you wash their face and offer some food in the place of dirt, you teach them to calm themselves down, and you stand by their side as they grow. 

In life, there are things we do that can’t be undone.  When I hear people say “I have no regrets.” my jaw drops because I just can’t even imagine that that is possible.  I have regrets every day.  Luckily for me more often than not they’re little regrets that fade fast.  I’ve learned from my dad, perhaps more than anyone that you can’t waste time dwelling on things that are over or can’t be undone.  So, it’s a bit ironic that he is the one who has this underlying feeling that moving us all to the United States was a mistake.  

Dad, this is for you.  Here are just a few reasons to let go of that switcher’s remorse.  

Dan, my husband, and the father to your grandchildren.  If we had not moved to New York we never would have met.  He loves his family, he works hard in his job, he is handy around the house, and he makes me laugh.

Isabelle, Henry and Max, your grandchildren.  I have to say, I’m a little biased but your grandchildren are pretty awesome.  They have your mathematical mind, your strong will, your artistic sensibilities, your love of music and stories.  They also live in American cities that offer them some wonderful arts opportunites from free performances to creative classes, farmer’s markets, and fabulous restaurants (that didn’t exist when we first moved to this country). 

McGill, my alma mater.  Plain and simple, if we had not moved to the United States I would never have gotten into McGill.  I wouldn’t have traded my year abroad at Lancaster either.  Living closer to your family and having albeit a very different life experience than you had in the UK, was wonderful and made me feel closer to your roots. 

Job opportunities for Jeremy (my brother) and I.  When people heard I was graduating with a philosophy degree, there were plenty of smirks and muffled guffaws.  Neither of your children took direct paths to get to their current careers, and I think those paths would have been much more challenging in any other country.

What I’ve learned from living in Canada, France, England, and the United States, all thanks to you, is that no country is perfect.  I take things from each of the places I’ve lived and visited and they form my life experience and outlook.  I may look and speak like an American, and whether you still have switcher’s remorse or not, regardless of which flag flies over our front door, above all I’m your daughter and about that I have no regrets.

Disclosure: This is a paid post for Verizon’s #SwitchersRemorse campaign. If you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information, head over to your local Verizon store.

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