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Danielle Paradis explores what makes Edmonton a great city.

A love letter to Edmonton, warts and all

Dear Edmonton:

Because I have a reputation for forgetting birthdays, anniversaries and anything that requires a card, I'm taking the this moment to tell you something very important: I love you.

I love you because after three years of merely "acting" like a writer in Vancouver, you took me in and handed me my first gig without questions. I love you because you make getting a decent career, a home, a more supportive than competitive community—things that 27-year-old Torontonians only dream of—relatively easy.

Sometimes I think you're crazy to have embraced me quickly. You hardly knew me. I mean, I could have been a burglar!

But I'm not special. I've seen your kindness toward a lot of new arrivals and youngsters willing to make something with you.

My friends out East told me we wouldn't get along. I won't even utter what they called you (rhymes with "Edmonton"). It's obvious now that they just don't know you.

And in those years you've helped me grow, I've seen you mature so much too. Your core is looking mighty busy and you've always got something delicious on the table. And even though you're getting a bit too big in the 'burbs, I still think you're beautiful.

I love what it's all done to your self-esteem, but can I be honest about something?

Sometime I think you're trying too hard to be something you're not. When I hear you talking about being world-class, I wonder if I know you at all.

When other Canadian cities top "livability" lists you write it off as bogus, as you should, but the second you're up there you act like it's gospel. What's going on?

The Edmonton I know laughs at itself and its giant baseball bat. It doesn't throw a tantrum because "we" gave Oprah truck nuts. The Edmonton I know is self-deprecating, so isn't truck nuts the most Edmonton gift of all?

Remember when Jian Ghomeshi came to town and did that live recording of Q? You squirmed whenever he compared you to the Other Sister, and laughed nervously whenever he'd vaguely compliment you.

But when Colleen Brown sang and Trevor Anderson talked about his brilliant films and the Irrelevant Show cast surely made the country laugh—you proudly cheered. You showed the best of you and let speak for itself, and you've never been more beautiful.

I know you've been soul-searching ever since you stopped winning those championships and you want to be so much more than a big mall. And I think it's cool that you want to brag about your festivals and winters, but just don't hate yourself if you don't catch compliments with that bait.

In the end it's those who know you—those who really take the time to know you—that know you're Canada's best kept secret. You make pursuing one's passions easy. And that's why we love you.

Happy Valentine's Day, sweetheart.

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