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Turning 19, in Ontario at least, is monumental to a certain extent. The law ceases playing Jiminy Cricket and bows aside to welcome you to the (finally legal)
world of drinking and smoking, vices which have been part of our lives to whatever extent, for years. There are a number of things I can do on the 4th of July, when I turn 19.
I’m writing to you from a computer in the lobby of the Ace Hotel, Palm Springs. To my knowledge I am the only person who has used it. Why would you be at a computer when you could be at a pool? A week ago, I’d have had an answer for this, but now I do not.
No one in my family – Canadian born and raised – served in the military, so I have no personal attachment to the poppy or its powerful association. But a visit in November 2008 to the Canadian cemetery near Juno Beach, in Normandy, left me weeping for an hour, stunned by the rows of maple-leaf-etched gravestones, the wet green grass carpeted by the reds and golds of the maples planted there.
There are places that bring you back to yourself. My friend’s house at the edge of a cold, clear Ontario lake does this. It is mostly window, a small, tidy shelter she designed and her husband built, filled with her artwork — a cocoon of creativity. Here, the silence is deep and healing, the only sounds water lapping against weathered rock, wind sighing through tall pines, the distant, lazy drone of an airplane, suspended high in the brilliant blue of an empty sky.