my neighbour

My parents moved into their dream home in the fall of 1938. They celebrated my eighth birthday the following February. Canada entered the war (WWII) in the fall of 1939. By1940 my father was in uniform. He was a doctor and head of a Casualty Clearing Station - CCS - more easily recognized and understood by the name of its U.S.counterpart, MASH, because of the TV show, set in the Korean war. I won’t go into more detail now because I was just setting the scene, not digging into early emotional problems. What I want to tell you about here is my next-door neighbour. She was just one month older than I although I was ahead of her in school, grades, that is. I had my appendix out the fall of 1939; my neighbour fell from the second floor of a house being built on the next street - to the basement - and walked home, very bruised. We recuperated together before we went back to school.

You’d think with that proximity of age and geography that we would be the very best of friends, but it didn’t happen. Ever. She was slim and fashionable and made all the right moves. I was a nerd, a smart nerd. The gap widened. My father was posted overseas while her father stayed home and made money. My mother took in boarders to meet the mortgage payments and her mother hoarded pineapple juice. My neighbour went off to a private school for her high school years and I went to a public school and met different people. I started university ahead of her, and kept on going and going, through a double honours French and English, a Masters degree in English - and got married and had children. She started in some course or other and dropped out - and got married and had children. We did that in those days.

This is about the election in the United States, in case you hadn’t guessed. I am watching the results now, the end not yet established, and I’ve been thinking about my continental neighbours. I don’t dislike them. Some of my best friends are Americans, family too. I like them. I’m not envious, exactly, but they make me feel like a nerd, a familiar feeling from way back. Don’t think I’m unique among Canadians in this feeling. Mine is compounded. I mean how would you like to be, not only Canadian but also Manitoban, smart and female??   OH,  I forgot to say old.  Smart, female  and old.  Not a winning combination.

Well, we all have crosses to bear.

What's going to happen next?