In early December of 1999, I flew back to Canada from Sydney. I arrived home on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening and spent a couple of days dealing with a combination of jet lag, temperature adjustment (Australian summer to Canadian winter), and culture shock.
I was only home a couple of days, though, because then several friends and I drove out to Ottawa to spend the weekend with another friend who was going to school there. It was just about the best thing to re-acclimatize me to Canada (except for the cold, my God was that brutal, and I didn’t have a new winter coat yet).
I drank familiar beers and skated on the Rideau Canal and ate beaver tails. And we went to a Sens game. (A novel idea, that, being able to actually get tickets to a hockey game played in Ontario…) I like going to hockey games in general (though I’ve been to very few NHL ones), and it was extra cool being there with my friends, and doing something so quintessentially Canadian after my year away.
The Sens played the Islanders, and the performance of the American national anthem was… fine. I’ve heard it a million times, but it’s just another song to me. But when the Canadian anthem was performed, I got chills and even misted up a bit. (I’d just spent a year as very much a fish out of water.) And when the crowd really got into singing along, as we are wont to do (even the French verse!), it became one of those moments that becomes indelibly etched into your memory. Canadians tend to be fairly understated about national pride, but this was a Holy Shit moment, and was just incredibly cool.
A few minutes ago when Alanis Morissette stood on the ice at the Scotia Bank Centre, stopped singing in the last verse of the Canadian national anthem, and held up the mic to pick up the crowd’s singing, I got to re-live that moment all over again.
True patriot love. 🙂