Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A love song to Edmonton

I have joined the Alberta bloggers, as I both have a blog and live in Alberta. According to their procedures for joining, I'm obligated to write a post announcing to the world that I am a "proud Albertan." Unfortunately, my feelings about Alberta are a little too complex to squeeze into a pat little phrase like that, and as an immigrant I'm not sure I'd qualify as a genuine Albertan anyway. So I'm hoping they'll accept this little piece about my adopted city instead:

At the time I came to Edmonton for my job interview, I was a candidate for two positions, one at the University of Alberta and the other at an Ivy League university in the United States. Back then I was sure I'd prefer the latter one--while immigrating to Canada had been a long-term dream of mine, my fantasies had always placed me in Ontario. It only took a walk down into the river valley, a trip on the LRT, and shopping in Old Strathcona to make me change my mind. I remember thinking, on the very first day: "If I never get to come back to this place, I will be very sad." Now it's home, in a way no other place
in the life of this gypsy has ever quite been.

I love the ethnic and cultural diversity, I love the festivals, I love the rainbow of restaurants, I love the music and theatre scenes, I love the farmers' markets. I love the proximity to the Rockies and the wide open spaces that surround it
, I love the almost complete lack of noxious insects. I love the sometimes frustrating but never dull political culture, I love the way each neighbourhood is different from the last. I love the river valley and the ravine and all the city parks and the glorious bridges. I love the skyline: new flanked by old. I love the kitchy riverboat ride and the elegant glass walls of the Muttart Conservatory and the silly-but-educational Fort Edmonton Park. I love the university in all its crazy enthusiasm. I love the queer community, I love the cycling community. I love that it's just big enough. I even love the things I don't care about: the hockey and football and baseball teams, the military base, the museums and galleries, and the goddamned West Edmonton Mall. I love that this is a city diverse enough to be loved by people who aren't like me at all.

I love the weather. Yes, you heard me right. There's something just plain glorious in seeing it still sunny in the dead of winter, and blowing on the snow on my car windshield and actually clearing it that way still makes this old Midwesterner laugh. And you can argue, but you won't convince me that anywhere in the world does summer like Edmonton: sixteen hours of daylight, a different festival every weekend, skies the colour of sapphires and even more beautiful, and the frenetic energy of a million other people who are as ecstatic as I am to be right here, right now, and nowhere else. It's probably a few weeks yet before I'm legally a Canadian, but I've been an Edmontonian since the day my moving van arrived here eight years ago.

If I were a poet, I'd write this place a sonnet. Since I'm not, this'll have to do.

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