A Polish friend recently posted this picture of Ryan Gosling – the other kind of Canadian beef export – and commented on how they’d love this particular gift from Canada. ‘Tis the gift-giving season after all. The holidays exaggerate the feeling of distance that most expats live with. It goes from being background noise to standing front and centre. We live far away. So while we’re trying to send presents to Canada and receiving presents from Canada, we’re made to wonder what’s left of our presence in Canada?
The longer we’ve been away from Canada, the more we’ve seen our relationships change. 5 years ago, our predictions over what our relationships would look like today couldn’t have been more off. With no return to the True North in sight, the question becomes are we able to maintain a life in Canada from a distance?
The simple answer is there is no simple answer. You would think with time that being away becomes easier. In some ways it has. There’s been a natural process of releasing some shallow-rooted relationships. In other ways it has become harder. There is no manual in the world able to prepare you for separating first-time grandparents from their grandson. Seeing your life decisions impact others is not an emotionally linear process. Some days we are at peace with it. Some days it deflates us.
We work hard to maintain a presence in our home and native land. Facebook (yes there is more purpose there than just Farmville), Skype, e-mail, actual mail, text messages and phone calls are weekly events in our household. It’s work and it’s necessary. We’re unwilling to let go of our lives in Canada. We’re Canadian and we never want to lose our link to that country, culture and mindset. We live in a global age and we’re part of a faith-community that spans the world. We’re in this together. For whatever reason we have the opportunity to link Europe and Canada. We’d be foolish to neglect that. And so we strive to have a voice on both sides of the Atlantic. To feel at home in the Old and New World.
Whether we’re succeeding at this is a test only time can decide. It defies nature to be present in two places simultaneously but we’re working on having a felt presence. We want to be a part of people’s’ lives even when a Starbucks run isn’t possible. That’s the goal. Distance is only an excuse if you allow it to be.