I was born a Yorkshire lad. By the time I graduated to stammering and crooked speech, I had the appalling luck to have been raised in varying places in England that left me with a Geordie accent.
The accent has since been obliterated by time spent living in Canada, some speech therapy, and the effort put in to avoid having every conversation peppered with the other person saying, "I'm sorry, pardon?"
England has a very mixed legacy for me. It was always more the home of my parents than of myself - though they certainly brought enough English culture with them to last my lifetime - and when I visit, the mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar is subtly unsettling. I can remember the sounds and appearance of birds most of all - Canada is a wonderful home, but lacks the range of bird life you see even in the most casual of gardens in England. In many of our homes, there were sweet little robins, grumpy rooks, flighty chaffinches, and dozens more types of bird. They were wonderful. I'd name them, make up stories about them, and delight in their varying songs. Those gardens, too, had a lovely diversity of blooming time and colour you just don't find here.
Ah, yes. There it is. Colour.
I cannot seem to break ties with one facet of England - a facet usually, but not always reinforced by Canada - spelling. My fingers seem incapable of typing certain words without the U, and my reflex double-tap on the space bar after a full stop - sorry, period - is unbreakable. I have growled at the sudden appearance of those little wiggly red lines telling me that I'm making a mistake, and have forced myself to agree as I cut out the errant U. I feel like I should apologize. "I'm sorry, U. The rest of the word is heading to the United States of America, and as such, you're not invited. Don't take it personally. Half the spaces aren't allowed, either."
Find-and-replace has been my solution to the double-tap space bar problem, and I have slowly learned to obey the wiggly red line. Every time I finish a tale and go through it and start to switch to the American English rules, however, I do find myself amused. It inevitably reminds me of the first few days of school in Canada.
Asking the teacher for a rubber and not understanding her horror. Telling someone I didn't like P.E. and having them wonder why I was telling them about my toilet habits. Confusing everyone by answering grammar questions with "full stop." And the incomprehensible accent tucked in with a mush mouth that led to day after day of "I'm sorry, pardon?" from adults and "What?" from kids.
I do love to visit England. Since I married - my husband is also British and moved to Canada, which when you think about it, means we covered about six thousand miles to meet each other - I've discovered new parts of England and Scotland where his family resides, and have even married into grandparents. England has a physical sense of history that I find grounding and humbling - the cornerstone of the church in the village where I was born dated back to 1066 - and I enjoy exploring that. Canada isn't even two hundred years old, though it delights me daily - though less so in winter.
I won't go back to England permanently, I don't think. But at the same time, I'm not sure I'll ever fully leave, either. And that's okay. Canada often strikes me as the place England didn't quite leave, so I guess I'm properly settled.