Greetings from Chiapas, Mexico. It’s been some 13.5 months since I left Canada in October 2020 and as it stands I’ve no plans to go back. It started with 7 months in Mexico where I more or less kept up the tempo of event-hosting I had started in Canada in summer of 2020, followed by 6 months in the United States, where I found myself a job in the Arizona wine industry. Now it’s back to Mexico to work on my visa application for re-entry into the US, then hopefully a greencard after a time, and citizenship in the longer-term.
I’m done with Canada. It’s (f/c)ucked. In fairness, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on there from the conflicting reports I hear, but having lived there most of my life, certain criticisms seem predictable and plausible—particularly those developments which pertain specifically to public complacency and the citizenry just rolling over to show its/their collective belly. Some people—those I reckon are most like me—tell me it fuckin’ sucks and is sliding further into communism. “Imagine getting out of Russia in 1916…” was a thought that played over and over in my head (for better and worse) during the last six months in the US.
Better because it strengthened my resolve to make a clean break.
Worse because living isolated out in the desert as I was, I might have been more susceptible to a general paranoia.
Does it break my heart that I see my country of birth sliding further into communism? Especially since I spent time in the military, etc? Not as much as you might think. I’ve always been drawn to the US; particularly the deserts of the south-west. It always seemed like the place to be for me, and getting caught up in the patriotism of being in the army and then deploying to Afghanistan might have—in retrospect—delayed me from really embracing this goal and pursuing it in earnest.
Even though I don’t feel conflicted about following my heart however, there is still a weird feeling about openly speaking so treasonously. I’m afraid because my best laid plans to obtain residency and then citizenship elsewhere might be for nought and then it will be back to the frozen north for me with egg on my face and nowhere to go. That is my biggest fear in fact—being stuck in Canada.
To be Fair…
Canada was a good place to grow up. There are more safety nets there and a general niceness which helps ease one into the real world. I know some friends for example in the States who went through the criminal justice system early on—in some cases upwards of 20 years ago—and they are still feeling the effects of it. Not to say, you can’t get caught in the system in Canada, but for whatever reason I never did, whereas I feel the likelihood would have been higher if I was born in the States.
On the other hand, Canada’s safety nets and collectivist leanings also mean that there is a lower ceiling for what one individual might accomplish—especially one who works in the arts as I have (mostly) have since 2013.
Do I owe Canada anything for the relative safety of my upbringing? Maybe.
If I do, have I already paid it off? I would say most likely.
The only pang of guilt/regret I feel is to the fine men and women I served with. I admire their love for the country. To one comrade (no pun intended) in particular whom I feel most accountable to, I have stated that I feel more loyalty to the US at this point, acknowledging that this might seem like a betrayal. Better to stab someone in the front than in the back right?
Canada has always had problems; Covid has simply thrown them into sharper relief. At the same time, it perhaps also gave me the push I needed.
Thanks for reading.
PS Stay tuned for the serialized release of Covid Refugee (The Memoir)