To all Americans in Canada: Warning - You are under alert.
Ah, I feel like I'm home again.
A few days ago, Ei got an email from the U.S. State Department (Oh, U.S.A., you bald mother hen.).
Message: U.S. Citizens! From now until June 28th be wary of travel in Canada! Especially Toronto! Due to the G8/G20 summits in Huntsville and Toronto this week, there will probably be huge protests and mobs of raging anti-Americans! We're bumpin' up our security, but... you never know! Why not go to Maine instead!
(Ei deleted the actual message... but that's the gist of it.)
Well, U.S.S.D, my friend, you managed to lure Eileen back home for a vacation, but I'm still here. Bring it, G20.
As we speak national leaders are descending on Canada, escorted by legions of security guards, reporters, and protesters. Like a nose full of pollen, Toronto's about to get congested.
Traffic - by air, road, and foot - will be rerouted, as officials rope off the downtown core. Many national attractions and restaurants will close. Sporting events and theater (ahem, Theatre*) productions have been rescheduled. The entire University of Toronto has closed for the week to protect students from protesters.
Hm. I'm pretty vulnerable right now. I'm in Canada's danger zone, without even an American sister's solidarity. Anyone looking for a target will spot me - I must stand out like a sore thumb. I mean, I might as well tattoo the American flag to my chin. How can I fly under the radar? - Avoid the subway? Stay inside? Hitchike to Buffalo? (Eileen, where are your schemes when I need them?)
Wait - No. NO! I can't give into fear. Must look - on - bright - side.
OK. This will be a pleasant week. I'll be able to enjoy my quiet neighborhood without venturing downtown. Who needs the business district? And - hey! - looks like I have no class this week. It's almost like I'm on vacation, without having gone anywhere.
Yeah. Yeah! What was I worried about? I've survived bigger warnings. Come to think of it, D.C. and New York were always at least at Code Orange. And let's face it - from everything I've seen so far, Canada is much better at... well... peace.
With a $1 billion price tag and run-o-the-mill summit controversy, the G20 has brought the most political turmoil I've experienced in Canada yet. But apparently, lo and behold, there's also some pride for this week. Fine by me. Canada deserves to be respected as a world power. Host to the winter Olympics, it's dressed up nicely for the spotlight. I picked a good year to jump on the bandwagon!
Before I take cover underground, I'd like to add one more thing. Canada, as you become more high profile, please don't change. In particular, don't let your chatty older brother rub off on you - "WARNING! ALERT! CODE RED!" Sure, "homeland secuirty" is important. But what happens when it produces more phobias than security? - when it marginalzies people from other homelands? Canada and the U.S. were founded by immigrants. I love the principle that anyone can feel at home in either country.
Honestly, Canada I've been more than impressed by your integration (Ei, should we send field notes to the motherland?) As an outsider and a traveler, it's nice not to feel like an alien...