An ode to Spain

Hey Spain, come have a seat. I made some coffee for you, just how you like it –con leche.
This might be kind of awkward, I mean, we haven’t seen each other in a while, but I have to tell you something.
I’m still in love with you.
I remember when we first met in 2005. Things were different then..for the both of us.
You had me at hello, er, I mean “hola“.
You didn’t take too long to convince me to fall for you. In fact, you didn’t utter a word. We moved in silence together.
Your long, hot days and windy nights fill me with wanderlust.
I miss the savory oranges from the market on a Sunday morning, and your succulent tapas on a weeknight.
You gave me art. Masterpieces that I didn’t even know existed, painted by an eccentric man with unforgettable flair.
You gave me futbol – nights full of passion and rollercoasters of emotions.
I miss your men.
Your women too.
Overflowing with colour and life.
Don’t look at me like that! You know I had to go.
We were temporary lovers that fell into one another’s arms, living our moments to the last drop, just before letting go.
We went through so much together. From first loves to break-ups, exams and shitty apartments. Even in my lowest moments you managed to embrace me in your goodness.
I hope to find myself in the middle of Plaza EspaƱa again, waiting for you and your endless surprises.
I’d never known love before I met you, and I haven’t felt it since.
Don’t leave just yet! I’ll get you another cup.


European Discrimination

I’m Canadian and Eastern European. I was born in Canada a few years after my parents immigrated from Poland. It was 1986, and Poland was in political, social, and economic turmoil. There was an exodus of people with dreams and ideas that couldn’t flourish inside of the Iron Curtain.
My parents were on their way to spend their honeymoon in Croatia, but they didn’t get off at their stop. They stayed on the bus. Next came Slovenia – they kept going. They got off the bus in Trieste, Italy because it opened the door to Rome, Italy. The Eternal City served as a temporary base for Polish people looking to escape in the 80s. It was the halfway line between prospective immigrants and their countries of choice, mainly Australia, Canada, and the United States.
That long prologue to this article was necessary in order to understand my frustration. As a Canadian with a European passport, I often travel on the latter in order to avoid long lines or visa questions. When asked for I.D, I often present my Polish one because it doesn’t make a difference to me.
I’ve noticed a look. A special look of discrimination within Western European countries reserved especially for those from the East. The Russian Dictatorship a.k.a “Communism” that swept across countries like Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, and so on, stunted their growth. Intellectuals were murdered and resources were exploited. If the communist years were erased, perhaps these countries would have grown to aide the big fish of the European Union.
But they didn’t. Instead, tons of Eastern Europeans immigrated to Western Europe and became a product of their environment – many falling into drugs and prostitution, among other things.
Not everyone is a bad apple however. There were hundreds of thousands of other hard working Eastern Europeans who immigrated not to cause trouble, but to start a new life. I’m tired of the look people give me when they see my ID. No, I’m not a prostitute, alcoholic, or a maid. I’m not a mail order bride.
I was walking down the street once with a German friend, who knew about my Canadian origins only, when we came across a man digging in garbage cans.
“He’s probably Romanian, or Polish or something.” stated my new friend.
When another friend met a girl at his university, his friends wouldn’t let him hear the end of it because she was Ukrainian and probably after his money.
In a supposed “united” Europe, I see nothing but social and cultural division. Neither Spain or Italy can call themselves multicultural nations, despite the increasing percentage of immigrants coming in from Arab, African, and other European countries. Thousands of displaced immigrants fleeing war torn nations are marginalized and mistreated by their nations of refuge, and I see 1986 all over again.
When football (soccer) player Mario Balotelli made his debut for Italy, many fans made their feelings clear. Balotelli, a black Italian raised in Italy, has been greeted several times by fans throwing bananas at him on the field.
If it’s wrong to make assumptions based on origin or race in North America, why are Europeans, (mainly from Southern Europe) so far behind?
I consider myself Canadian, but there’s a part of my past that’s impossible to ignore, and easy to offend, especially when it comes to comments made from total ignorance.
I shouldn’t be treated differently based on which I.D card I present, and lastly, I’m sick of the all-knowing “look” that comes afterward.