Last month, we visited the lush, Great Green North that is southwestern Alberta, Canada. The trip’s purpose was sort of an all-in-one kill-a-flock-with-one-stone. Not only was it my sister’s wedding reception (at least, the Calgary stop on the tour, which I think was the flagship party), but it was also our family’s last season as owners of the family business, That Which Has a Cult Following Despite That It’s Just Concessions At Fairgrounds (which would make an awesome assumed name, aka d/b/a, BTW).
Oh–and it was also the Calgary Stampede’s 100th Year Anniversary, with promises big enough to match the hairstyles of the ’80s (multiply that by a few factors, since Calgary is Canada’s Dallas of sorts).
It was mostly what I expected – we stayed at my sister’s house so that we could cook real food and have a quiet, safe, convenient base of operations (and by convenient I mean that from her door to the fairground gates was 35 minutes or less, which includes several changes of bus/train and all waiting therefor).
The fairgrounds had undergone a few layout changes over the years as I had come to expect. (In fact, I was surprised at how little had changed.)
As in years past, everywhere we went, we overheard a mention of the little donuts that thankfully gripped the nation in some sort of mind-bender.
West Edmonton Mall was as I had left it, other than a revamp of Fantasyland (now Galaxyland, after murmurings of a Disney lawsuit). The Killer Coaster was still there, as was Bourbon street.
We stayed a night in Edmonton, in a little hotel that donned a poster in its entryway that read something along the lines of, “exchange of unauthorized bills is prohibited”. The elevator broke during our stay, holding several people hostage between floors until it was fixed, instilling further gratitude that we were only there for one night.
Then we went to a park and rec area akin to a Banff alternative of which I won’t name so that I don’t fuck it up for others. A river ran through it, and the water was chilly for July until I remembered that this was Canada, after all.
What I did not expect, however, were the bewildered tears I shed on the homebound flight home just before it left the Calgarian runway.
I suppose I did feel its creep up behind me during the interlude of “Superman’s Dead” during the Our Lady Peace concert on our last night there.
I tried to figure it out. What was I crying for?
The best I could piece together was that it was hitting home, the fact that this entire chapter of my life was done. Finished. Gone. Soon to be a figment of my imagination and memory. And its life was as fragile as my memory.
What else surprised me was that that feeling lingered well into the first few days home. “Superman’s Dead”, “Clumsy” (also by Our Lady Peace) and “Stereo” (by the Watchmen) all took up their own nests in my brain, taking unrelenting turns occupying my head.
I realized that this country (the US) does depress me a little. Arriving home I realized how generally barbaric, rude, entitled, and politically polarized we all are. We’re not content with the middle of the road, with the happy medium, or with being happily average. We simply must stand out from the crowd in some way (or multiple ways), even if the attention we demand is negative. We must sport strangely shaped and/or colored vehicles, opinionated bumper stickers, collegiate affiliations, religious leanings, family decals on the vehicle’s back window bragging about our offspring and their crea8tive names or name spellings.
And I realized that as badly as I didn’t want to be a part of that anymore, that I just wanted that happy medium where everyone was generally good and polite, that I was stuck in this polarized hellhole of opposite extremist tendencies and the insatiable need to broadcast them to the world. Canada’s too smart to have Fox News, you know? I might’ve liked to start over up there. But too many roots hold me here and there is no way out.
Whatever happened to my plans indeed.