Saturday 4 December 2010

Born in a different country?

I finally watched this interview with Christopher Hitchens. I was waiting for inspiration for another post and he gave it to me. There was a mention in this interview that he once said that he was born in the wrong country. He was of course refering to the United States of America, Hitchens having always been drawn to it.

I do not think for a minute that I was born in the wrong country. I am completely, utterly, desperately Quebecker, even as an expat, maybe moreso as an expat. But I do wonder sometimes where I could have been born, given my temperament and sensibilities. I once blogged about where I could live and once about absorbing cultures. This post is much more speculative and pretty much cultural daydream. Still, it is interesting to muse about this.

Of course, being an immigrant in England and having lived in this country on and off for more than ten years. I would have grown up as a pretty good Englishman: proud of a literature that I love (big and small), of the acting world that I admire and envy, drinking real ales, being a tea drinker from a much younger age, grumpy about the lousy weather, etc. I may not have been bilingual had I been born here, but I would still have become a republican, something that I would have gained at late teenage, alongside my atheism. I can more comfortably imagine myself being born English than say Irish or Italian because of my atheism: England is a more fertile soil for it and a more welcoming place. That said, I feel very strong connections to Italy. I have difficulties imagining myself as a born Italian, but in my life I came very close to be an adopted one. At some point, the only thing lacking was the language. I even had been Christened with an Italian name by my Italian friends (one day I might blog about this). During my first year in England, I discovered more Italian culture than British one and felt so comfortable in it that one of the Italian students I was hanging around with once called me "the most Italian of all Canadians". It was quite a compliment. But born in Italy, I wonder if I would have become who I am. I am a Northerner to the core, except when I try to be Italian. And it is difficult to imagine myself growing up in sunny mediterranean south of Italy. But maybe my inclination towards this country was done through absorbtion, it was not inherent to my nature.

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