Sunday, February 28, 2010


Like it or not, the country where we were born and where we live helps define us. At times, we’ve all seen patriotism become obnoxious, even become misused, but we’ve also seen, particularly over the past two weeks, how national pride can help unite millions.

I spent my teens and my twenties as a Canadian living in the United States. It was just another way I felt like a minority. If anything, it only fostered a greater sense of that part of me that is Canadian. While in L.A., I hosted Canadian Thanksgiving gatherings, cheered the Toronto Blue Jays as they won the World Series and somehow felt a stronger connection to Men Without Hats, Alex P. Keaton and, yes (somewhat inexplicably), Pamela Anderson. (She is a vegetarian and animal rights advocate. I admire that.) Still, it wasn’t the same celebrating Canadian Olympic moments or Alannah Myles’ chart topper on foreign soil. (My boyfriend was thrilled with the Blue Jays’ success, but I think he had ulterior motives.)

When I first moved to Vancouver, it took a year or two for me to become a true Canucks fan. In fact, I’d forget when the playoff games were scheduled. I lived in the densely populated West End and I’d suddenly hear a roar of clapping and cheering coming from the highrises surrounding me. Game on. Goal for Linden! Later, when I moved to East Vancouver, I’d take the dogs for a walk to Main Street after a Canuck playoff win. Cars would slowly pass by, honking, hollering and waving team flags.

Sometimes, as Joni Mitchell so tunefully noted, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. I think that’s why the Taking it to the Streets partying in Vancouver during the Olympics has struck such a cord with me. It reminds me of the first Gay Pride parades I attended. It is uplifting when you feel a link with a mass of giddy people. I may not drink as much beer as some of the revelers just as I choose not to walk around in a Speedo in the name of Pride, but the sense of fun that comes from finding one element that we value and have in common is truly special.

Watching the men’s Canadian hockey team squeak out a win against the never-say-die Americans would not have been the same had I still been living in Texas or California. Sure, I might have earned gloating rights, but that’s not what it’s really about. The glory of seeing your team pull out the win is talking about it and rejoicing with others who will forever remember Iginla’s pass to Crosby and the shot that found its way past the remarkable Ryan Miller.

For that reason, it’s a tad disappointing having only my dogs around when the game ended. I loudly exhaled and collapsed to the floor in relief. The dog on the bed cocked his head as if to ask if I expected him to figure out how to call 911.

After I recovered from today’s Win that Almost Wasn’t, I leashed the dogs and took them for a victory lap through the neighborhood. All was quiet. I ran into my neighbors taking their dog for a stroll and we cordially shared our game experiences—she was too tense so she baked muffins and defrosted the freezer. Not quite the ice connection I was seeking.

Yes, it was wonderful to see the celebrants in the streets in Toronto and Vancouver. I still don’t seem to be in quite the right place. Oh, what a feeling it must have been.

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