Downtown Vancouver After Canada Hockey GOLD!

I’ve spent much of this afternoon trying to write about the Olympics – not in the I-was-there way I’ve been doing, but to sum up my emotional experience of the Games.

I can’t do it. It’s too much. But I can sort of cobble some thoughts together.

Vancouver is my home. It’s the home I chose for myself and it’s the place where I feel safe. Having felt very much not at home in many of the places I’ve lived since I was a kid, this is a very big deal for me.

The first time I ever felt the feeling people call patriotism was when I sat in the stadium here in 2003 and learned that Vancouver was chosen to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. That feeling was a revelation.

I haven’t become a citizen yet, but this is my home. I root for Canada.

I’m not anti-American. I don’t dislike my native land. But Canada is where I have that feeling. And during the last two weeks, my home abandoned the reserve that’s the one thing that drives me nuts about living here (I will always be a New Yorker, see, and we are not reserved). The people of my city smiled at strangers and struck up conversations at the bus stop. We whooped and cheered in the streets and we rooted for our athletes. We had fun without apologizing for it. We were respectful and we weren’t nationalistic.

It’s an important distinction to make, between feeling patriotic and feeling nationalistic. The former is a pride and a togetherness; the latter involves feeling more important than or better than. We aren’t more important than anyone else, but it seems we’re finally ready to be proudly together.

I didn’t know I could love my city any more than I loved it for the last eight years, but I do. Just by showing up, we created something rare and beautiful and special and free. It isn’t ours, it’s everyone’s.

I hope that feeling lasts, and I hope we use it to create more good in this world.

And I hope you enjoyed your visit here, whether in person or through the screen. I hope you got a bit of that feeling, and that you’ll remember us fondly. We’ll never forget you.

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