For the past several months, the idea of travelling outside of Canada has run through my mind.
Times have been tough on all of us.
With growing frustration surrounding the seemingly never-ending lockdowns in Canada, I booked a direct flight out of Pearson Airport for Las Vegas, Nevada, affectionately eluded to as “Lost Wages” by my wise-cracking flight attendant.
For this particular journey, I decided to have my father tagalong. He is eighty-three, young at heart, and an optimist if there ever was one.
I booked a direct flight, as I am disabled, and layovers tend to be the death of me.
For just under three hundred Canadian dollars, we set out to travel south of the border for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19.
It is worth mentioning I am a dual citizen and spent some time in America.
There are some things about the U.S. I could do without, but for the most part, it is one of the only vestiges of freedom standing today.
The taxi picked us up on Valentine’s Day just after 5 am. Travel days are arduous; my advice is to fly out super early. It makes air travel as manageable as possible.
The airport itself was a microcosm of what life has been like in Canada for the better part of two years.
Individuals in surgical masks, walking several feet apart, wondering how the hell things got like this.
The irony, however, is how different things seemed once we cleared customs and made it to our gate.
I witnessed the same expression on pending passengers; relief. So many Canadians looked downright thrilled to escape the madness of the Great White North.
Once we boarded, the fallacy of face masks hit me. A five-hour flight to the desert, wearing a mask the entire way.
The joke in this; once handed our complimentary bag of pretzels and choice of coffee or soda, our masks could come down.
I had heard of this phenomenon before, but it never hit quite the same way.
Seeing it up close and personal only left me chuckling in dismay at the ridiculousness of this fiasco.
When we touched down at McCarran International Airport, there was no real difference in day-to-day life.
The come to Jesus moment occurred just outside the airport.
As of last week, mask mandates in Nevada stopped except at the airport.
We picked up our rental car and bee-lined straight for Dunkin’, formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts.
To walk inside a coffee shop and order a drink without a diaper on my face was nothing short of cathartic.
Customers were inside, all without masks. Even more noticeable was the staff; they too had faces instead of masks.
Father and son sipped hot coffee. We marvelled at the things lost these past two years.
We spoke with a few patrons and told them we were visiting from Canada.
Each time they asked, ‘what the hell is going on up there?’
To this, my father did not say much.
He would remark that today Justin Trudeau is loathed, but if we find ourselves in the clutches of another wave months from now, he very well could be applauded.
Mainstream media raised my old man. I let him believe what he wishes to, the very essence of freedom.
My answer to the Americans wondering about Canada; this is the result when citizens do not own firearms, and law enforcement and the military do.
I am currently in my second week here, and my general finding is that Americans are pushing back.
They have had enough.
Life is back to normal in the desert. You still see some Americans wearing masks. I have no problem with this.
The sign of democracy is individual agency. One can decide for himself what to do or not, as long as it does not infringe on others.
The most impactful, visceral imagery I encountered on this trip occurred last weekend.
My father and I went to a local sports bar to take in some hockey.
The place was busy, and some parents brought their kids for a night out on the town.
Children, ranging in age, were maskless, laughing, smiling, colouring.
There was no fear, no control, no overreaching mandates by elected officials.
I dream of a Canada where this happens again. I look forward to travelling elsewhere in the world, and when asked where I come from, I hope to get something other than, “what the hell is happening up there?”
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