cultural mosaic experiment

A toothless Happy-Go-Luck with his shirt wrapped around his head stretches out his brown leathery arms and legs across Commercial Drive in a full body “arrêter!”. He beckons me to cross. “You’re the kind of girl to stop traffic”, he grins.  “Why thank you very much”, I nod, queenly, sashaying past him on the way to buy some eco-friendly fish. Halibut season is here and I have fresh dill and lemons.Unknown

The day is warm and bright and my neighbourhood is out flying all sorts of flags in the sun. Two people with shaved heads, cut offs and plaid shirts pass me holding hands. I have no idea what gender either of them are and I don’t spend any time trying to puzzle it through. I just allow them to be. When did that particular discrimination leave me?

The old Italian men at the cafe have pulled out their straw hats and short sleeved button downs. Two drummers sit with their eyes closed, cross-legged under a tree. Their tattoos glisten as they play, breathing to each other’s beat. Hipster Moms have their babies in slings across their sloped swinging breasts. Their fellows are shirtless and too trendy to shave just for the weather, so they scratch at the sweat in their beards. Everyone is smiling, even the entirely black dog with the entirely white face wearing a smart red kerchief.

Lavender has grown along the gulch and gunnera are bursting their dinosaur fronds through the earth: already gargantuan. Children squeal in the park. High end Moms sip high end iced coffees and chat around their luxury strollers, sporting new cropped pants and shiny smart sandals. A group of marginalized seniors are playing marginalized instruments on a bench: wispy grey and plucking away at ukuleles, wearing bent old hats. They are so beautiful it makes my throat ache. I stop to tap my toes and grin, my grocery bags banging against my knees. A first nations family walks beside me. A little boy loping behind his Dad and a little girl, tugging at the hand of her Mum. The Dad holds high above his head what looks to be a ceremonial drum. Where do you get such a mix of humanity like Grandview park?

I head home and cook up a feast. It’s an International dinner with Canada, Brazil and Algeria represented. Haha is back finishing her research at UBC and we are finally able to have her for dinner. She kisses Nora about thirty five times Auntie vigorous on the cheeks. Nora stiffens with a smile and closes her eyes, preparing for the onslaught of affection. Haha catches me up on the last few months and showers us with gifts and kindness. She tells me she has made a life altering decision (that I will keep private). But I will say it is definitely a declaration of independence. It mustn’t have been an easy move for her, considering her conservative upbringing. I am so very proud of her. So very proud. She is vibrant and her lips pucker out a host of brand new English words. It is wonderful to see my tall smart girl blossoming into her full PhD.IMG_1083

After tucking Nora into bed and driving Haha home, I scrub the dishes dreamily. I remember a recent conversation I had with a friend about the Canadian cultural mosaic experiment…and smile when I recall Haha telling me the first meal she cooked when she returned to Canada was my Dad’s broccolini pasta recipe.

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