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October 02, 2005

Pause

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy parents lead a primitive existence. They only have a dial-up internet connection. They have cable, but not digital cable. They only got Windows last year and my mother swears that it was invented by demons. They bought a cappuccino maker but refuse to use the milk steamer. They don’t believe in fabric softener.

Off I go to Canada’s wild, wild West. I will plunge into an existence of regular attendance at the bet knesset (synagogue), suppers with the rabbi and congregation president. Little old babushkot who were already white-haired at my bar mitsva will pinch my face and order me to invite them to my wedding before they’re dead ten times already.

My mother will offer me grilled cheese sandwich after grilled cheese sandwich (she makes the best in the west) and my father will be unable to answer even a simple yes/no question without a thorough evaluation of the circumstance, revisiting of precedents, and examination tangential yet essential details.

My sister, who is almost 30, and I, who just turned 35, will have at least one meal at my parents’, glaring over the shabat candles at each other over some tiny grievance, and spend the next 2 days giving one another the silent treatment. It will end when she tries to set me up with one in a long line of her gay friends. She doesn’t know my taste very well, but she certainly makes an enormous effort.

Winnipeg / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWinnipeg is about one month further into autumn than Toronto is. Today I am wearing shorts in Toronto. By tomorrow evening, when I walk to synagogue for Rosh Hashana with my family (minus the sister and her also-Jewish girlfriend), I will be wishing that I’d brought winter dress socks. By the time I come back to Toronto it will be approaching that temperature in this city as well.

Winnipeg at this time of year is beautiful. The trees have all burst into fluttery oranges and brilliant reds. They will grace the cities one hundred-foot oaks and elms a few more weeks before cascading to the ground. The wind will blow crisply, a pleasant taste of the winter to come, later. And the big prairie sky will never lose its sparkling blue, even on days when it climbs all the way up to 15C. In this city of seven hundred thousand, you can still see the stars at night and the Northern Lights. Once I saw a comet in the Northern Lights; without using a telescope.

Winnipeg / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI have moved around a lot in my short 35 years. Winnipeg is the place I have stayed still – or was made to stay still – the longest. I can never return to the life there, although I enjoy being reminded what it’s like to be anchored and completely surrounded by unconditional love. And grilled cheese sandwiches.