Cheryl Cook: East Coast by choice

[If you’re ever in the market for non-Hallmark cards, check out the Etsy shop of this next guest. She makes seriously funny handmade cards right here in Halifax and ships around the world. A lovely person in real life and dachshund propagandist.]

Photo credit: Caneadea from Flickr

By Cheryl Cook

I am not a native Nova Scotian. Exactly. I wasn’t born here but that was, I believe, an accident. Not that I was an accident. My mother will attest to the forethought given my conception, though she mutters something about “the best laid plans.” I have difficulty thinking figuratively so I have never really worked out what she means by that.

I was born in Alberta which is unfortunate, as I really don’t like Alberta. A great deal of it is flat, and I find this find suspicious as well as unnerving. If I drive away from a city, I would like it to disappear gently over the rolling horizon. I would not like to turn around and see it there half an hour later, trailing me at a distance like some sort of nearly exhausted puppy. Shoo Edmonton! Shoo!

We didn’t live in Edmonton for long. My father was in the Air Force and one of the perks of the jobs is getting to uproot your wailing children and vaguely resentful spouse every few years so you can plop them down in a new town where they get to (very quickly) adjust to a new set of rules. On the face of it, there would seem to be few perks to this, but I can say that I became a quick study. I would do what was needed to get a little playground cred, be it a kick in the slats to a bully boy, or even a quick game of doctor. Whatever it took, I wasn’t proud. By the way, I would like some clarification on whether an optometrist is an actual ‘doctor’. Anyone who knows, give me a bell, will you?

Eventually we rolled into Nova Scotia, the final stop. It was a difficult move, out in the county among kids who had mostly lived with each other their whole lives, like fish in a small bowl, swapping boyfriends and best friends from this reduced pool. A harder nut to crack than towns where other kids’ fathers were in the military. But you adjust.

And as it happened, Nova Scotia had a bonus for us. My father was born in Yarmouth, his family having been there since the 1700’s. This meant that the kids who were from “no where, really” could finally lay some sort of tentative claim. Not that it held up under much scrutiny. It would take just one “Oh Yarmouth! Did you meet [insert name here, and it probably ends with Doucette or Cook]” to blow the cover. But it also meant that here in Nova Scotia we could answer the all important question “who’s yer father?” Having lineage means passing for native. No CFA label for me, thanks. I blend.

So we come back to my accidental status. Accidentally Albertan but deliberately, slyly, Nova Scotian. Why would someone choose to live a life of deception? Why not just come clean and go back to Alberta?

I will tell you why. In need of a new birth certificate (for reasons I will not go in to here but which I think you can guess involve my personal property being used to line the sock drawer of one Tom Selleck, star of 80’s tour de force TV show Magnum P.I., and who I am very, very confident has been stalking me now for some years) I went online to fill out some forms. Reluctantly I did this, for that slip of durable polymer material with more than 20 embedded security features would surely burn a hole in my fist, like a big red A of shame. I clicked the webform and a PDF opened up to the first page, full of helpful information for filling out this form. Helpful information in comic sans.

I smiled. I’m not one of them. I don’t belong there. I have settled on the east coast, by choice.

Cheryl Cook (a.k.a. @wryandginger) as lived in Nova Scotia for almost thirty years, give or take a few years out of the country, and works in medical research by day. She is arachnophobic. For your own safety, we’ll add that she is also surprisingly aggressive, so if you are thinking of exploiting her arachnophobia for a cheap laugh, be aware that she will fucking wreck you for using it for a gag. Physically, emotionally and financially wreck you. She also loves the smell of a warm puppy’s tummy.


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