September 1, 2010 § 3 Comments
A BC friend told me to think carefully about any decision to move away from Montreal. “They say leaving Montreal is like leaving a lover,” he said in a clairvoyant tone. He’s an ex-pat of my sexy town.
If it’s true I’ve been in a relationship with Montreal for the last 10 years, then lately I’ve been cheating.
Today, while enjoying a cup of tea in the Dutch Bakery — my favorite cafe in Victoria, which happens to be only two doors down from the most fabulous bookstore on the planet — I noticed I was flirting.
Flirting with a new life, with a relationship with a new landscape.
Back home in Montreal, my favourite cafes are filled with teenagers in leggings with laptops. When I moved to Montreal at 22, laptops weren’t mainstream yet, and neither (perhaps fortunately) were leggings.
I watch and listen to them around me in a cafe where I’ve been sipping cafe-au-laits for years (and just the fact that I’ve been sipping cafe-au-laits for years irks me), feeling imperceptibly out of place. I notice how the same waitresses have aged through many cold Montreal winters. They are stoic and beautiful and I wonder with a tinge of embarrassment and pride at how I must have aged too. And then, later in the evening, I walk past what appear to be ghosts of my former self on the sidewalks, standing outside buildings that once housed my favourite clubs, smoking cigarettes. Places I’ve been haunting for years, ironically inaccessible.
Montreal. The lover maybe I should have kicked to the curb long ago. Hey, Montreal! Weren’t we supposed to shack up in a cheap triplex and start a family next to the Hassidim. You more than once betrayed me on that front: You were too busy teaching me a new language, teaching me solitude and resilience, teaching me to shovel pristine morning snow off my entrance way. I suppose I more than once betrayed you too, since I always, secretly, lived between two places. I never told you about this.
That’s why I kept sea shells and beach glass on my windowsill all those years, and photos of my family on the walls.
I miss you. I long for you and love you. You promised me a lot and you usually delivered.
But today, I’m thinking about inhabiting a 10×10 ft cabin in the woods (it even has a wood stove!), spending my days writing, starting a meditation practice, listening to the gulls on the shore.
And calling it the life I always wanted.
p.s. see you tomorrow!