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two profiles

Profile in courage. A kid in line with her dad, surrounded by conversations she can not understand, her eyes wide, knowing that in a few minutes she will board a bus alone, drive to a place she has never heard of, and live among strangers. When the time comes, she gives her dad a hug. Her lip is wobbling but her chin juts firmly. Imo and I are in Montreal, sending her on to a month of French immersion in the Quebec hinterland. Her idea, and it did not (as do most of her summer fun ideas) involve chartering a plane or overthrowing a government, so her mom and I jumped on it. Now Imo is wondering if her brother's summer fun ideas (bed, beach and be bored) might not make more sense. Across our country this summer, kids will be setting off into the unknown, swallowing their fears, hoping to survive. (Hey, I still have a scar from Camp Pine Crest.) I think a small salute is in order. Living in tents or cabins, hanging out with strangers who may not like you, playing with canoe paddles or tennis rackets or horses or other odd, possibly radioactive objects -- it's tough. These kids are middle class heroes. The farther you are from your comfort zone, the more you learn. Strange is necessary to grow. But as a wise friend of mine quotes, Uncertainty without doubt equals adventure. Uncertainty with fear equals nightmare. (Our topic that day was faith.) So I want to make sure that Imo believes in something. Love you, honey, I whisper. Uh huh, she whispers back. I hope it's enough. Now another profile. A dad behind the wheel of a rented car in a city overrun with a soccer tournament and jazz festival, where every other downtown street has been turned into a tourist mall and most of the others are under construction. Barricades pervade, as do police, traffic cones, and driver frustration. But I am not the focus of this profile. I am behind a delivery van driven by a charismatic madman. I follow in awe, my frustration swept away by the tidal wave of his rage. He rolls down his window to berate traffic cops, he gesticulates, threatens, honks his horn and wrenches the wheel over to make seemingly impossible lane changes. When we come to yet another access ramp that is blocked off, he turns anyway, scattering plastic cones like bowling pins, roaring away defiantly. I follow, thinking, So this is how revolutions happen. In the rearview mirror I see the cop stare after us, and then shrug her shoulders. (I wonder if a Toronto cop would have reacted that way? Or a New York cop? Somehow it seems a very Gallic moment). A minute later, I am on the expressway, keeping close to the speed limit (enough revolution for one day), hoping that Imo is on her way to an adventure.


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