In less than I week I’ll find myself back within the borders of my home and native land. It’s been a while since I’ve last been in Canada – 16 months to be exact – the longest time I’ve ever been away. I’ll see a lot of old friends, some from high school, some from uni, and probably some I didn’t intend to see.
It’ll be interesting. I live in Prague now. I’ve been in Europe for two of the last three years … it’s sort of home now. Which is nuts. It boggles my mind, it’s awfully cool, but it’s fucking nuts. I can’t wait to swap some stories and see how – if at all – some of my old friends have changed. Or find out if I have.
That insecure part of me was dwelling on this the other day while I was lost in my cups, and it shook me a bit. What if I’m not the same Canadian I was when I left? What if I’ve changed a whole bunch, but it was so slow and gradual that I just didn’t notice? After all, I don’t have any old friends out here to call me on my shit. It’s not so ridiculous to consider. That got to me.
How do I know I haven’t drifted out to sea and lost a part of my Canadian-ness?
What if I’ve become some boring old shell of the person I used to be? Or the person I was shooting to be when I left home?
What if I’ve turned into one of those knobs who goes home and starts each story ad nauseum with: “Well in Prague …” and then acts all high and mighty and superior about things.
Will my old buddies be mad when they find out I don’t watch hockey anymore because it’s so barbaric and crude? I mean, football – “soccer” – is a much more pure and athletically demanding sport. I’ll feel sorry for them if they can’t understand that.
What if I can’t find any cheese shops that will let me order in the original French? How the hell am I supposed to feel important while I shop for cheese unless I can do it in a foreign language and in a very public setting? I should at least be able to yell at the proprietors of any shop that wont accommodate this totally sensible request. That’s not unreasonable, right?
What if I haven’t even noticed the transition into some sort of Euro-hole (that’s European asshole) because I have yet to see anyone I knew from North America since I’ve gotten here? Nah, I doubt that kind of thing can even happen …
What if my friends are all like … pshhh, you’ve changed man. Look at you, wearing a scarf indoors while the heat is a balmy 40 degrees. Well you know what guys – this is fashionable, okay. My personal heroes, Christiano Ronaldo and Robbie Williams, are always wearing scarves, so don’t hate!
What if bartenders get all irate when I try to smoke with cigarettes indoors and they say something along the lines of: Hey, that’s illegal here. You can’t do that. And I go – Yeah, well, sorry man but this is a free society and it’s not my problem that you find yourself living in a small little North American box that you can’t see out of. I bet you’ve never even left the country! I feel sorry for you. And I say it all in German.
And what if my old girlfriends laugh at the sheer number of superfluous zippers I now wear on all my jeans and most of my shirts?
Will I have to explain to all my college buddies that, yes, in fact, in Europe we’re always having sex in the bar … Not even in the bathroom, sometimes just under the table or over there in the corner. Don’t be so grossed out and puritan about it – we simply don’t possess the sort of hang ups that you North Americans do.
You know how douchey fake British accents are? Well I assume that fake Czech accents will be received in the opposite way.
It should sort of be my mission to correct anyone anytime they say “apartment”. Ew, don’t be so 1950s suburban fat American tourist. Call it a flat. My friends will thank me later, I’m sure.
Will the irony of the following be lost on those that knew me well?: I’ve been living exclusively on my Slovenian passport for a very long time. My job, my insurance, my doctor, the government … they don’t consider me Canadian. Does this mean I can start being a dick about how Canada is now perceived abroad?
That last one’s almost bittersweet, considering that few bang the drum of the Great White North as much as I do. Fact is, lately I’m sort of embarrassed at times about Canada, and pissed at the fact that I can no longer justify the: “Well, at least we set a better example than America” argument.
These are all very serious questions to consider.