Ignorance is Bliss: Never Questioning Canada

More stories from Kalie Johnson

“I always thought I dreamt of Canada.” I wrote that today in my notebook during class while we were discussing a book I should have paid more attention to. I wrote it out of a feeling that I wasn’t certain if my childhood trip to Canada and my memories of the event were reality or a vivid dream. There’s this haze surrounding the events.

In some respects, I always think that Canada was a dream, that when I went there, I didn’t actually go, that maybe I just dreamt I did. Because I don’t remember it so much. I went when I was younger. I don’t even know when. But it is this overwhelming memory of intense happiness. When I think of Canada, I think of the color yellow. And in my head, this yellow links to happiness.

I don’t remember how long I was there or what I did. Which makes me think I dreamt it. I am afraid to ask someone if it was real or not because I don’t want to destroy this little image of Canada. What if this happy memory of mine, which is fragmented and confusing, isn’t real? What if I’m holding onto this and I fabricated it?

So, let me tell you about Canada. There are small insignificant things I remember. From singing the Fanta song in the backseat with my older sister while sipping on Grape Fanta to a Walmart parking lot full of seagulls. From a Beanie Baby store in Canada, the shelves stocked full and so high you needed one of those ladders to reach the top to the raspberry bush at the house I stayed at, my distant uncle’s, I think. I ate them guiltily and indulgently as if I would be told to stop. I remember that deep forest greed. And clean raspberries from this after-rain moment.

I remember these stepping stones to the lake behind the house and then a series of red fire ants crawling up pale, always bruised legs. I was a rough girl. I don’t think my legs have ever been that supermodel pure. They are scarred from climbing trees and racing in streets and living outside. I like them in some respects and hate them in another, but I remember watching these devil ants climb up my knees and blowing them off like they were nothing. I think I was a little bit crazy. I sometimes worry that I’ve lost that childhood abrasiveness, that little psychopathic disregard for everything everyone fears.

The lake was shallow, but had a clairty that the sun angrily shimmered into. The water was clear and silent and every time I think of Canada, I think of that water. I think of slipping my fingers in when my uncle’s head was turned like it was some sort of sin and pulling them quickly to the side of the boat when he turned back around. I think of catching this ugly little spotted sunfish. I liked that he was called a sunfish. I remember that.

But Canada means the color yellow. I stayed in the yellow room, scratched dark wood floors, yellow walls, two yellow beds and a yellow lampshade. It was awfully yellow, but it sticks with me. Not the color of lemon but of artificial yellow, of that fondant yellow. I do not remember what I did in that room, but I remember its yellows.

I want to believe I didn’t imagine any of it because it is all so vivid, but so scattered, so abrupt and hazed. I do not remember much more. I want to keep Canada as real, as this little pocket of happiness. It’s just so strange to me that I can not be certain if it was real, but I refuse to seek outside acknowledgment, to be told that I am imagining it. If ignorance is bliss, I want to keep Canada as yellow.