Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two Americans Land In Canada, A Strange Journey Begins

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwa
rds.” -Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking Glass
Carl Jung spoke of coincidence – of synchronicity – as unrelated events that happen together in an unlikely context, which carry meaning for their observer. Oracles, psychics, and your neighborhood palm readers find value in coincidence, too, likely believing they signify you’re on the right path.

But what if you’re not on a path? What if you’ve somehow stumbled into a new city, looking for direction, and are suddenly bombarded – one after another after another – with undeniable, kick-you-in-the-crotch coincidences? What then? Are you crazy? Is it a full moon?

Ei and I are two creative documentarian-types – a documentary filmmaker and an anthropologist writer – of a rather lost generation, wh
o found each other in Toronto, Canada – lost, but happy too. Independently, we both landed in Canada at random, and met amidst equally strange storms of coincidence.

To be honest, 90% of our friendship is spent reassuring each other we’re not crazy – both of us place meaning in coincidence, and neither of us has had the ability to sculpt what the universe has dumped on us.

And on top of being unable to interpret all our bizarrely linked events, we’re navigating through a bit of a fog.

You see, as an American I feel Canada is more than my neighbor. He’s my brother. I feel at home – at peace – in Toronto, inexplicably more than perhaps any other city. And yet our countries are not the same. Canadians are not Americans. Americans are not Canadians.
"You have no rights here."
-A friendly Canadian immigration officer (a story for an
other time...)
The thing is, since we’re so close, the differences sneak up. What makes us American? What makes them Canadian? Those differences, they’re crafty. Most of the time they’re invisible. Actually, it’s quite possible they don’t exist. This uncertainty is where the insanity-factor comes back in.
Is flipping the bird in public a Canadian thing – or is that guy crazy – or am I crazy – EILEEEN!
I can’t speak for Ei, but I sure am glad she’s here. (Aw, wait – Hey, Ei! Aren’t you glad I’m here? Yeah? Ok, thanks.)

What’s different? What’s the same? And why are all these damn coincidences happening?

We’re starting this ethnographic record to make sense of our lives in Canada before it makes us insane. What kind of brothers are our Canadian friends – are they ten times smarter, kinder and more resourceful than us? Or are they seconds from unmasking themselves as mice-torturing American haters?

We hope documentation helps our adventure. But either way it’s an adventure we want to share. Sometimes we’re homesick. Sometimes we’re embarrassed of home. Most of the time we’re a little confused. But I’ll promise you this, we’re always up for a good crispy samosa.