Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in another city or country? I do, all the time. Of course none of my fantasies include practical things, like work, or finances or cultural difference. No, why worry about that stuff in a fantasy? No, I dream about the fabulous home, overlooking Central Park, or the country side estate in Kent, or the glass fronted home in Malibu or the south of France. In every fantasy I am thin, have gorgeous hair and a fantastic wardrobe. I pop out and meet friends for lunch and have my nails done. Take long walks and visit local site-seeing spots and speak several languages. It sounds so fantastic! Meet new people who would embrace me and find me interesting and of course we would become life long friends. Sounds just like a Maeve Binchy novel.
My parents always wanted to do an exchange with another family in some other country. I remember them talking about it when I was younger. All I could think was HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO ME?! Of course it was always about ME and how it would affect ME! Looking back now, it is a shame we never got a chance to do that. Yet, it is within my power to do it now. But could I? Even if it was for a year, could I let someone else live in my home? Could I live in theirs? I don’t even like to stay with relatives on vacation. I like my own space. I suppose I wouldn’t be living with them, but still, their bed, their taste in wall colour, and me powerless to change it.The flip side would be immigration.I live in Canada where people immigrate to everyday. That I understand. That makes sense! Of course people want to live here. It is an amazing country with breathtaking beauty and very polite inhabitants. But why would I move to another country ?
I met a lady the other day, she immigrated from Eritrea, Africa to London, England. She was visiting her brother and his family here in Canada. Understanding the political and religious oppressions that occur in Africa, it is easy to understand why they wish to leave. Their dream is to have a better life for their children. To give them the freedoms that one could only dream about in Africa. So to me, that makes perfect sense.
I love listening to people’s stories about why they chose Canada over another Western Country. Or what made them leave their family and communities to start over. I even understand the need to live in communities where people from the “home country” are currently residing. There is something so comforting in SAME. At the same time, I love that my city is so diverse! I know an Italian bus driver who has lived in Edmonton for 30 years. He has a thick Italian accent and speaks with his hands they way you see in movies. When I talk to him, I get the whole Italian infatuation thing. He is colourful and interesting, speaking to him makes me feel like I am sitting in a piazza in Florence. Or listening to a co-worker from Argentina. She has stories that would curl your hair! Between her and my Cuban friend, I am slowly some Spanish words. I understand way more than I thought I could and that surprises me. My best friends are from Scotland. We share the same dark and twisted humor. When speaking to them, lots of people haven’t a clue what they are saying because even though they speak English, their slang and vocabulary is quite different from the local vernacular. I find myself “translating” every now and then. Although I am not multilingual, I guess in a sense I am.
The thought of having to leave Edmonton to live a new life is daunting. I couldn’t leave my mom & dad or sister or even my brother. I would miss my aunt and my gran too much. We share a closeness that I would miss like I would miss my left leg if it was taken from me. I watched Up in the Air last night and was fascinated by George Clooney’s character ( I know! I was watching the movie and not just him!) He had no ties, claimed he didn’t want them – yet he really did. I know people like that. I have family like that. They have their own life separate from their family. I some ways I am envious, maybe jealous even. But when it comes down to it, family is just to important to me. They would have to come with me. If I moved to a new country or even just a new city, I would have to fulfill my grandpa’s dream to have a home with several wings to house the different families so we could all live together. Just like on Dynasty or Dallas! Complete with the wardrobe and lifestyle! HA! Now that is starting to sound creepy even to me.
Maybe I need to pursue the learning of language. Visiting other countries would be easier. Touring other countries is something that I am not going to give up. So maybe that can be my own way of experiencing new cultures. Living in a country for a month or so and submerging myself into the culture. Italian appeals to me because of my Italian friend and because of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, come on, after reading the food part how could you NOT want to speak Italian and live there for a while? Spanish makes more sense to me as a language to learn. I have several Spanish-speaking friends, and lots of different countries speak the language.
So maybe that is my next challenge on the Edmonton Tourist Express. I’ll take one order of Spanish with a side of Spain for a month thanks. Now… the question is when?