Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.24.10
Stanstead, Quebec


Didn't we just get here?

The recent mail included a letter from Montreal's Concordia University to our daughter Emily. I tore it open in the car, even though that's apparently a federal offense, or so says my wife, who knows a thing or two about these things. I figured I could risk it, seeing that Em's in Thailand and I have a special dispensation from the Postmaster General for all matters related to mail fraud.

The letter was Em's acceptance to Concordia, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Religion. The minor's a bit of a surprise; we're not much in the way of church-going folk. Perhaps there's a correlation between Em's decision and the fact that she's the only one of our children who's been baptized. I just hope that doesn't mean our other children are going to minor in Heathenism.

But really, selecting your major, your minor, your university -- that's the point isn't it? It's really the first step in making the life of your choosing. High school you survive, Cégep you go to because it's Quebec and, hey, it's just one of the many cockamamie things you do in this province. But university? That's big. That's out of the house, moving on, looking forward, making KD.

As I said, Emily's in Thailand right now with the Eastern Townships -- Mae Sot Education Project, teaching English to displaced Burmese and learning that the world is a complicated, beautiful, wonderful, and frustrating place.

I'm thrilled she's there. Certainly, it's an opportunity I never had, and don't we all want our kids to do what we never could? A little while ago, for example, I learned that my son James can spit through his front teeth. I am moved by this in ways that are as inexplicable as they are unreasonable.

Thailand, then, is a pretty big deal. Chatting with her by Skype eleven hours away about the religious ceremony she attended or reading on Facebook that a gecko just pooped on her head -- our hearts burst with excitement for her. Well, maybe not the gecko part, but you get the idea.

Yet, holding that possibly-illegally-opened acceptance from Concordia Monday seemed like an even bigger deal. Emily hasn't lived at home now for over two years. But somehow it all seemed something of a transition, possibly because her crud kept ending up in our garage.

Now, though, she's definitely shipping out on the sea of her life. And we can only wave from the shore and offer perpetual safe haven as well as personalized laundry and meal service.

The others aren't far behind. Katie's learning to drive, and doing a fine job of it. She just has to learn to slow down a little on the curves and realize that she doesn't need to hum constantly to keep the car on the road. Does she know what she wants to do with her life? Of course not, but it'll be here soon. I can see it.

James will be 15 next week. If you listen carefully, you can hear his bones stretching. He's also developing this remarkable comic timing that makes me laugh at even his most smart-ass comments. As for ambitions, they include goofing around and avoiding homework. There could be a future in journalism for him.

Abby is years away from leaving home. We barely trust her to walk to school on her own; she might be distracted by a puddle and never arrive. At times we imagine she'll never leave. But then she'll say something like, "Would you be a peach and pass me the ketchup?" and we realize that there'll be a place for her in the world. That place may include sparkly puppies and drawings of James Bond and Miss Bond getting married, but it will be her place.

It's exciting and terrifying the speed at which it's happening. Didn't we just get here? Where's everyone going? Are they dressed warmly enough?

Before we know it, all we'll have is empty rooms. And tuition payments.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at