when I think of the USA, I am happy. I felt the most happy, at home, adventurous, and involved I’ve ever felt while I was over there. I lived in a small town, in the north country.
When I think of it now, i first remember the heat. the warmth was so that the mountains became a haze of blue on the horizon, the lake was a cool relief, the tarmac burning the soles of my feet. the flavour of barbeques. the cool sweep of sunscreen down my arms. i remember being surprised at the french words on the signs. anxiety about visas, phonecalls, insurance. new friends. pizza. Budweiser. stars and stripes; more flags than i’ve ever seen in other countries. i don’t disdain the patriotism, i admire it. i love it.
then I remember the cold. so much colour when the leaves turned. walks to the park. Halloween. pumpkins, and dress up, and twinkle lights. first snow, laying in it, falling in it, laughing at it. winter coats. lots of them. snow boots, jumpers, so many layers and getting overheated inside the buildings. cheeks blushed from cold. underground tunnels to avoid the bitterness. cups of tea; stealing out into the cold to get them and hurrying back into the warmth to drink. being told the weather is ‘mild, this year.’ loving how different it is. being under-age again. sneaking into bars, feeling like a 15 year old. tire swings in the twilight. feeling like my accent is still a novelty. taxis on christmas eve.
starting again. spring so hesitant to unfold. snow in april. Canada. Oh, Canada!. icy pavements. rain. a sense of inevitability. shot glasses on wooden bar tops, laundry days, our rooms now full of trip mementos, posters, and birthday cards. and then the sun came again. warmth, fresher than before, a new summer. the ice comes off the ground and is now in the drinking cups. picnics, umbrellas, towels on the grass. getting packages in the mail. soon, now. not long, now. 2 weeks, 10 days, 3 days. goodbyes, now. the ‘lasts’ begin. ‘last trip to wal-mart’. ‘last class of the year’. hugs before you drive away. ‘can i have a hug?’ I kiss your cheek. I miss you already. Too soon, not yet, not until,. the whiteness of our rooms without our things seems so unnatural. so unrelenting. tears.
and then I am home. I am happy. I miss America, but fondly. It will still be there when I get back. I hope, I wonder, will you wait?