This part one of a four-part personal essay series on immigration and identity. This instalment was published by Prairie Fire literary magazine, and was recently submitted for a National Magazine Award.
Dad paused the movie. “Can you believe that some people spend their whole lives trying to get to the sea?”
My mother and I looked at him. I raised my eyebrows. We were at my favourite part, where the main character finally fulfills his lifelong dream of visiting the ocean. I couldn’t understand why my father had chosen to such a critical moment to bring everything to a standstill.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Some people spend their whole lives trying to go on vacation,” Dad said. “They make it a mission to go to the sea. The sea, of all places.” My father shook his head and un-paused the movie.
My parents had grown up in Jamaica, mere steps away from the one thing that many Canadians yearn for. I opened my mouth, then closed it, because I didn’t know what to say. I felt jealousy bubble in my gut. For my parents, the sea was an old, familiar friend. For me, it was a mere acquaintance.
It is possible that my future children will spend their lives chasing the sea. One day, I may pause the television only to have them stare back at me blankly, able to conjure images of the sea only from movies, not from memory.