Immigrant Nostalgia

Colour. Catalogue. Cheque. Favour. Harbour. Centre. Fibre. Grey. Behaviour. Rumour. Savour. There’s nothing like a list of Canadian spellings to cheer me up when I’m feeling blue. That and the secret stash of Coffee Crisp bars stacked in my filing cabinet between file folders Portuguese Travel Articles and Rare Books.

I’m feeling homesick for Canada today. I’m only a half-hour south of the border—and cross it often to visit family, friends and former colleagues—and yet, I miss my old life, my former home, and all those places that hold such strong memories of my childhood.  My feelings pale in comparison to what my parents must have felt when they left a small rural island in the Azores and travelled 4400 miles to live on another small rural island south of Vancouver, but even so I’m exhibiting signs of immigrant nostalgia.

The only cure is work. That, and poetry. Here is one of my favourites by Azorean poet João de Melo.


On this island there is no looking out
that isn’t ship-focused: in the sea
man has his destiny awakened and the
course for embarking.

Everyone is born looking out from the island
at water ripped slowly
by the edge of the keel
of ships on the high seas.

And courage bespeaks courage
maybe a ship placed
in the eyes of this voyage
the whole dream a shipwreck.

4 thoughts on “Immigrant Nostalgia

  1. I was born and raised in Toronto myself so I can relate to what you’ve said about Canadian spelling. Let’s hear it for the letter “u’!

  2. FYI Coffee Crisp chocolate bars are available in parts of the US. I buy mine in Santa Monica.

    1. I don’t think Coffee Crisp is available in the City of Subdued Excitement…

  3. Nostalgia, saudade, is that constant ache and longing for people and places and things we have left behind, even if just for a half hour and, always that hope that whatever we miss will return to us, even when we know that it can’t. As long as we yearn for what is missing, we all become immigrants in the end, no matter how close or far we are from home.

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