my son Diarmid, 8, had a tough time when we moved from glasgow to toronto in 2001. a teacher in his first school asked the class to draw pictures of 9/11 shortly after that day. Diarmid drew a picture of people jumping from the towers with speech bubbles saying ‘goodbye cruel world.’ his teacher said ‘that’s terrible. go draw me something nice like an american flag.’ Diarmid was gutted. he told me later ‘i don’t understand american culture.’ *
shortly after that day he described to me his feelings of moving countries, of being in a new place where no one knows where you come from, or what went into making who you are. it’s like that part of you never existed. i wish i had written down his words, because they were so eloquent. much more eloquent than the words i had written in london, 3 years before he was born, having similar feelings of un-known-ness after making the opposite move, from canada to britain.
and now, after living in britain for 22 years, i live with similar feelings of un-known-ness in canada, the country of my birth
* Diarmid is presently studying cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto