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Homesickness at the Calgary Stampede

When I was ten years old, I went to the Calgary Stampede for the first time. All I remember is watchinga rodeo show and winning a stuffed frog. Visiting my family in Calgary and Edmonton was my favourite thing to do – spending hours at the waterpark in West Edmonton Mall, hiking in the mountains, having endless barbeques and going to Dairy Queen before every flight back home. I grew up in the Czech Republic with my dad, who’s from Alberta, so we visited our family every few summers.

Somewhere during my late teens, I decided to move to Edmonton for university, foolishly thinking that moving to Canada will be as fun as going to the stampedewhen I was ten. I was wrong.
Ten years later, I was standing in the middle of a concert crowd at the Calgary Stampede, fighting off an anxiety attack. A few months after I moved to Edmonton, I was visiting my family in Calgary. My cousin was working at the stampede, so I went to pick her up. Arriving a bit early, I wandered to the closest stage. I think it was Nickelback, but I don’t quite remember, because all I saw was a sea of cowboy hats, headbanging to songs I didn’t know. Where the helldid I move to? I kept thinking. I felt so displaced, dizzy and homesick.

I pushed my way out of the crowd and walked into some random hallway near where my cousin was finishing her shift. There was a tiny souvenir store, so I wandered in. In classic Calgary Stampede fashion, every item had a cowboy on it and some tacky logo. The store had boots, hats, pillows, key chains, pencils, blankets, and God knows what else. I don’t remember much, besides the overwhelming sense of panic, dissociation and nausea. I just wanted to be home. I left the store, leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor.

“Homesickness is like most sicknesses. Eventually it moves on to someone else,” says a priest to a young Irish girl, after she moves to New York in the movie Brooklyn (2016). I saw this movie a month after I moved, and felt so understood, comforted and hopeful. Two years later, when I was re-watching the movie, I still empathized with the protagonist, but I was no longer in her place, adjusting to a new home and creating a new life. A few years later, when I was working at a restaurant, I was chatting to my new co-worker, who had just moved to Edmonton from Berlin, and I realized that the priest in that movie was right: homesickness passes and moves on to someone else.

I left for Prague a year ago to be with my closest family during the covid-19 pandemic. A month ago, I watched Brooklyn again to commemorate my fifth anniversary of moving to Canada and I realized I was homesick for Edmonton. Edmonton was difficult to love at first; I hated shoveling, the winters, the overly friendly attitude that seemed fake, and I hated the city itself. But over the years, I fell strangely in love with it. I made friends and lost friends; I moved houses; I lost jobs and found new ones. The more boring and stable Edmonton felt, the more I knew I was at home, and now I would do anything to snap my fingers and find myself back in that silly city with ugly buildings and freezing winters.

Rosalind Fleischer-Brown is a fifth-year psychology and English student at the University of Alberta. She published two books for the Antarctic Institute of Canada and translated a children’s book from English to Czech. She also published a literary essay in the Glass Buffalo and published several articles in The Gateway, the University of Alberta’s magazine.
Faculty of Arts,

Austin A. Mardon is a fellow(hon) of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Order of Canada. In his youth he was part of a NASA expedition near the South Pole recovering meteorites.
Catherine A. Mardon is a Dame Commander of the Papal Order of St Sylvester and with her husband a ten-minute audience with Pope Francis. She is a retired attorney.

John Dossitor Health Ethics Centre, Faculty of Medicine,

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