The Birth of a Stranger

The Birth of a Stranger

A few years ago my wife was travelling back west with a couple of our children on a bit of a grad adventure. Along the way they would stop at significant places and take selfies because that is what you are supposed to do. One of those stops was my birthplace, which was the same haunts of my teenage parents and their families. However, what my wife wanted to do was to locate the hospital where I was born to take a picture. Locating any hospital was a challenge since health care was removed from this ‘city’.

Oh, it had reached its illustrious goal a few decades earlier but what is a city when all social infrastructures have been removed from it? It would seem that this quaint little city, nestled in the prime real estate of the Okanagan was now divided into the haves, living in high priced condos that scattered the hilltops surrounding the majestic views, the have nots that littered the valley bottom in run down buildings owned by the haves staring down at them, and the ‘fuck-offs’ who found their houses stuck between these two realities and were simply waiting for these outsiders to leave or for themselves to die; whatever would come first.

There was no hospital to speak of and what my wife found instead was an elderly care home. To the best of her ability, she was able to determine that at some point in the decades past this building used to be a hospital and thus was the place where I was born. It is weird to think of the place I was born as being gone, almost like a part of me had now vanished. I know I should get over myself for what about those unfortunate souls being born into the back seat of vehicles, which surprisingly seems to happen quite often in this country but not so surprisingly when every town they drive to in an attempt to find a hospital has converted their hospital into a coffee shop and garage combo or limited the hours to every other day between the hours of 2pm and 4:30pm.

And so, I don’t exist. Well, I mean I exist in the simple sense of the word but if you were to go looking into my past you would not find a beginning. No hospital. No records as the hospital would have shut down and the records quietly dispersed long before the province sold its responsibility to privacy around health care to some ‘other country’. Who knows where those records are now? The paper long ago yellowed with age and disintegrated. Too old to have been digitized so at best they may exist in some film form, sitting on some shelf in some basement somewhere without the foresight to save the equipment to playback the silly thing.

I think I am okay with this turn of events. The not existing thing that is. I spent so much of my earlier years purposefully erasing any trace of who I was it seems rather poetic that now, being older, I am compelled to embrace my past since I am wondering if I now have the scales balanced the other way – more behind me then there is ahead. In this sense I am free to ad-lib a little to make this second half of life more entertaining. I don’t have a way to verify my birth story so I am free to say and record whatever the hell I want to. Who would know? Who would give a shit?

Hello world! A stranger has now been born.


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