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The place I’ll return to some day

June 10, 2008

(All due apologies to Square for borrowing their song title for this entry)

This is my final journal entry typed in Arkansas – although it looks like it will be posted back home in Beloeil, since I’m typing this in the airport secure zone while waiting for my flight back home (they don’t appear to have wireless access here).

This, overall, has been a good trip. Despite the hitches – the rollercoaster that was the week-end, and the mistake that was staying after the wedding (as opposed to arriving even earlier – it was much funnier exploring town while waiting to meet Ashley than exploring town while waiting for my plane to finally leave), and two days of rain (including one day that left me soaked through and through – monday, and what I suspect was an encounter with the ETDs (Evil Tomatoes of Doom), this has been one great trip.

Discovering the south for myself, as opposed to trying to make-do with the partial information in (chiefly) north-eastern medias was quite fun. As my favorite website puts it, “Medias are always right, except when they talk about something you actually know about.” Contrary to popular belief, people in the south knows what “Canada”, “Quebec” and “Montreal” are. (They joke about not knowing where it is – “That’s a bit north of Kansas City, right?” said a shuttle driver jokingly – but they do). And they were actually quite interested into talking to someone from there; into hearing what Quebec is like. Quite a few of them actually sounded informed about Quebec politics, the independence movement, etc, and asked relatively pointed questions regarding that sort of issue. Many of them wanted to compare gas price with Canada (something complicated by the litter vs gallon conversion), too. And all of them were perfectly aware that the Canadian dollar is now real money :).

So much for the hick south that knows only about Ahmurica and the taco place them illegal aliens come from. (Although such people probably do exist. But then again, there probarely ARE Canadians lumberjacks somewhere, and some of them probably even wear the lumberjack shirt. And some of them might even have dog sleds).

I have no doubt, mind, that many, most of them were moral conservatives. But they also seemed, by and large, to be somewhat open-minded conservatives (NOT an oxymoron), that is, people who are open to different states, different countries, having their own, different customs (within reason. I’m pretty sure they object to lapidating, harems and so forth). People who aren’t so much bigots hateful of anything and everything different, but rather people with deep, proud traditions they love, and which they are not willing to break way with without what they consider excellent reasons. While I think some of the change they refuse because of this DO have excellent reasons, I can understand that sort of position only too easily. Much as I can understand why people in Quebec feel hesitant to discard the Cross in the parliament meeting room. It’s a deep-seated part of our traditions; an important part of what Quebec is, who the Quebecers have long been.

Honestly, in some way, Quebec and the South are not so different. In a sense, the South is what a Quebec might have become without the Great Darkness and the ensuing Quiet Revolution – without, then, a single church growing so powerful and so overbearing that backlash against it, and a break between the people and the church, was unavoidable.

Exploring the town was fun as well – there were many old buildings, particularly around the university. And many fun historical tidbits, like the place where a certain famous first couple first lived (I’m not fond of hillary as a politician, but I liked Bill, and IIRC, I actually share a few ancestors with Hillary. Of course, given how few french people originally migrated to the New World, if you have New France/Louisiana/Acadian ancestry, we probably have at least even odds of being very distant relatives).

And of course, getting to meet Ash and her family was great.  I’ve known her eight years, it was about time (Note to a certain girl of Ghanaian origin : You’re in the crosshairs now).

I’ll probably return to Fayetteville someday – so long as Ashley and John lives there, of course – to visit them, and so they can actually show me around town, and help me see it through their eyes. If they move…well, I’ll discover some other corner of the world. That’s nothing to complain about.

In the meantime, I’ll wait for her (or any of my other friends, hint hint) to visit Montreal so I can show them around and help them see why it’s actually an awesome city. And I’ll work on convincing people that Cool City + Me + Worldcon + Neil Gaiman as Guest of Honor is a perfectly valid reason to come to Montreal next summer (2009).

And to try to talk the other two sides of the old trio into arranging to meet in summer 2010. The trio will, after all, turn a full decade old then. If there ever was a perfect time for the three of us to finally be together in the same place…

(I’m now home. Expect the final part of the epic Journey to the South shortly. And then, once I have the photos developed, another post or three)

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