amw (amw) wrote,

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why here?

I had a Skype chat with R yesterday and she really wants me to come back to Canada. I had been sort of babbling about my last few weeks here and how my life hasn't been that exciting lately, and she said "so really you might as well still be in Toronto then?" And i couldn't explain why, but i said for some reason i am happier here. And i've passed the three-month honeymoon period now, so it's not that. I think a large part of it is because i don't have any belongings any more, i don't have any friends or family around, so my life is finally my own to do with as i will - i don't have any obligations or guilt-trips... But i could have had that in Toronto too, given everything away, moved to different part of town, gotten a better job, "gone dark" with all the people in my life and just lived in my own little world. Yet somehow, that still doesn't sound quite as appealing.

So this morning i sat down and did a little exercise on paper that i do in my head every time i meet someone. Because i've lived in so many countries, i invariably get the question "which one was your favorite?" And it's almost impossible to answer, because there are things i love about every country i've lived. For a long time i would say America, because it's always been my dream to move there. But now i just say i miss certain things from every country, because it's easier to talk about those tangible things than it is to get in an argument about imperialism and guns and religious nutjobs and every other American stereotype. Today i wrote those things i miss down.

Canada only has one thing. Two, if you count "being next to America" as a thing. The only tangible thing i miss about Canada is burgers. Canada makes great burgers. Equally as good as American burgers, maybe even better. That's it. Just over the border you have Mexican food, the desert, the freeways and awesome TV. But Canada just has burgers. At first i thought i missed the Chinese food, but then i realized i miss the Malaysian and Indonesian food in Australia a LOT more than i miss the Chinese food in Canada. I also miss the coffee in Australia. And being able to wear a t-shirt for 9 months of the year. I definitely do not miss wearing winter coats and wading through snowbanks and getting stuck in the suburbs and being a sardine in subway cars that half the time are delayed anyway. But i do miss the burgers.

Things i missed about Europe (though i didn't really realize how much until i came back) are the brötchen, the beer, the public transport, the nightclubs, the pedestrian-centric living, the fashion, the cakes, the communities clustered around little bars on every block... And probably i could get those things in specific neighborhoods of specific cities in other countries, but i'd have to go out of my way to find them - here they're just as ubiquitous as great Mexican food in America or great coffee in Australia. People in Australia are unpretentious about coffee because it's just good everywhere. People here are unpretentious about buying fresh bread every day because there's a bakery on every corner. I could probably find amazing tacos at some hipster foodtruck in Berlin, but i don't want to travel halfway across the city to find the one place in town that doesn't suck. Just like in Canada i never drove all the way up to Richmond Hill to go to the only restaurant in a town of 5 million that made nasi lemak. But it didn't matter because the sports bar 5 minutes from my house made great burgers.

I think one of the reasons i prefer to live in places than to visit them is because i can assimilate and have an unpretentious lifestyle just enjoying whatever the local community has to offer. The problem is, thinking about Canada - or Toronto at least - the only unique thing it has to offer is burgers. I miss more about Australia, and i've never been back there. (Of course, Australia is on the ass-end of the world, full of bogans and costs a fortune to visit, but that's a don't miss list, not a miss list.) So all of this is coming back to the lack of response from Canadian immigration after a month ago i sent them the tax returns and rental agreements that they requested as extra evidence that i actually lived in Canada for the 4 years that i said i did. I still haven't been given a date for my citizenship ceremony, and i am beginning to wonder if my documents got lost in the mail, or if when they saw the German postmark they decided i wasn't serious enough about becoming a citizen. And if my citizenship application is denied - aside from being pissed i wasted several thousand dollars on a weekend trip just to sit the citizenship test - i don't know if i want to bother contesting it. Yes, Canada is a useful location from which to look for jobs in America. But if i don't get my citizenship and lose my permanent residence, i don't think i'll be crying over it any more than i'm crying over never being able to go back to Australia (which is to say, not at all). My life moves on wherever i am. Years ago i wanted to move to Canada as a stepping stone. Then i met J and moved there for her instead. Now i don't have her and i've all but given up on the idea of being able to live in America - stepping stone or no - so why Canada? Because i have one awesome friend there and they make a great burger and fries? I also have one awesome friend in Australia, and i miss her a lot too, but much as i love my friends i'm not going to move halfway round the world for them. I'm tired of moving for other people. I'm tired of living for other people.

So, what? Right now my home is here. In a few years maybe it'll be somewhere else. And then i'll miss all the great stuff from here. I'll probably have an awesome friend left behind here too. Of course, i'm a European citizen by birth so wherever i go next i will always be able to come back without having to go through the immigration song and dance. God, immigration, the bureaucratic specter that's loomed over my every major life decision for 17 years. Perhaps that's the best thing about being here. For the first time in my adult life, i don't need to worry about what happens next, because no matter how fucking retarded another country's immigration laws are, i know i can always come back here and eat brötchen and drink beer and not have to fight another stupid battle justifying my very existence.
Tags: looking back, travel

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