Monday, July 05, 2010


As the dazzling fireworks of the Fourth of July wind their way down to a black and crispy puddle of ash, I think of my day, Canada Day, July 1. I was here and they were there. Canadian, here, in Japan; Canadians, there, in Canada. Much beer was drunk, of this I am certain. Much exploding lights were seen across the sky, lighting and dazzling and doing what fireworks are supposed to do, while back at home, closer to the ground, level with the grass, firecrackers chased some kids and chopped some fingers.

I keep thinking of a little boy, in a small apartment, near where I went to school. York University, in Toronto, not far from Jane and Finch, probably the most crime-covered section of Canada (if you believe what you read, which I usually do -- to my detriment). He is probably black, an immigrant from the Caribbean, or the son of immigrants from somewhere else. Haiti, perhaps. Or he could be Vietnamese, or Chinese, or Thai. Lots of those folks there, too, in that cheap housing. Never seen much outside of Toronto, this kid. Never been north, to cottage country. Never been south, to the States. He's seen concrete and steel his whole life, even living near Yonge and Steeles, as if he needs any more affirmation that his world is a sterile one.

What does he make of his country, my country? I've been gone a long time; sometimes I wonder what to make of it, too. Does he know where we is? Does he get the country the way that I think I do? Are his dreams of lakes and waterskis, gangs and guns, a little bit of both, a whole bunch of neither? Should I care? Does it matter?

While America does what it does, Canada did what it did on July 1, and now has moved on. Hot dogs and burgers, pop and beer, chips and blunts. A day to chill and forget the rest of your life. What did that little boy in that rundown apartment do on such a day? And what will he do on each of the days from here on out?

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