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I am a Gemini. But we've been met in suburban Canada with a calmer duality.

Even after approaching them at a park, children seemed to ignore us, moving through time as though nothing in the world took place outside their group. It was a lack of response openly upsetting to my daughter. To fend off potential psychological damage, I explained to her that it might be a cultural thing and to give it time. Then gazing upon the children who upset her, something was striking as they gazed back at us. If we weren't the spaceship, we also weren't from the U.S.-a proxemic nation. We were from the U.S.-a nation as far away as Mongolia. I posed a question in attempting to allay the foreign and release the natural and they calmly, matter-of-factly replied, "No." But fascinated, one said, "I've been to Michigan", and the ice was barely broken. A father of the group soon joined and greeted us with fond trepidation. "Pleased to meet you, I think." And my oldest, observing a ball game at another park, retrieved a ball that went out of bounds, threw it back and was ignored...by adults.

Neighbors have walked across the street to welcome us and offer friendly advice. One father, whose children had already introduced themselves at the park and were playing with mine, even called me on the phone. I saved my work, got up and walked around the block to talk to him. We've been invited to another neighbor's house for their swimming pool and barbeque, and another for their trampoline. Our next-door neighbor, with the other next-door to him, mowed our lawn upon their offering, each with a separate tool for greater efficiency. I felt like Lulu.

While walking to the school, we were viewed by some young boys across the street who calmly and abruptly stopped what they were doing to stare at us, though we wore no sandwich signs. But on account of apparent redundancy, I removed the peace buttons from my mini backpack. The sentiment in establishments like the supermarket and computer store was of, "Well...yeah." It was a resonance and volume of the gentlest profundity. I now feel like protesting U.S. policies and injustices is more fitting from the refrigerator, which could also prove overly demonstrative. Friends come over.

It is a duality with the calmest confusion and with my concern for the children, their future a big reason we're here. Still they actively exercise their freedom to be social, strengthening their ability to handle the duality. I will continue, on occasion, the attempt to pre-read the silence from the welcome, a silence defiant in its portrayal of...social compression. But it's no eye of the storm, and the culture that has touched us from the store clerk, to the person walking their dog, to school administration, to the guy (looking official and not asking to come into the house) who asked if the job the cable guy did was acceptable, is one of patience, mutual respect, exponential generosity and environmental conscienciousness.

Americans need to stop their cavalier attitude as Canada's neighbor. Canada is its own, large nation with its own immigrants from around the world, and its own culture, heritage and pride. Our adoptive community has made it clear that the U.S. isn't their twin within North America. And if the U.S. comes close in perspective, it may only be because it's a drive away with "shared" waterways. The idea of so many Americans that the U.S. is the better, smarter twin...well, consider Bush in office and how he's managed to stay there. Let's be real...has it ever been?

 

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Rachel emigrated to Canada in the summer of 2006.- She has an M.A. in Teaching ESOL, and her poetry, short stories and articles have appeared in print and online. Rachel is a member of Fair Vote Canada.
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