Monday, March 18, 2013

musings on montreal.

despite the name of this blog, i have been a resident of montreal for 7 years and counting. not exactly the definition of a nomad, unless you count numerous apartment moves and a jaunt to scotland...

anyhow, after committing myself to live at least a year and a half in ecuador (and the plan is not to come back, but keep moving through south america), i have been going through a process of cutting ties. mostly physical - selling furniture, cancelling lease... but along with that it's been frighteningly easy to cut the emotional ties too. scenes that i used to love are now looking old and worn, shops and cafe's starting to lose their appeal, and the lifestyle.... well don't get me started on that.

how does that happen... a place that once thrilled you, a lifestyle you'd always aspired to live, an atmophere that you thought was home... almost becoming repulsive? how do you fall out of love with a place? is it like falling out of love with a human? realizing that they have taught you all they can... and staying together will just be unhealthy and/or irritating for both of you?

perhaps seeing montreal yet again under sheets of ice and scurrying from place to place to avoid losing limbs to frostbite has skewed my viewpoint....

however, i was downtown the other day, and thinking that it had been a long time since i took a good look around, and appreciated what the city had to offer. this was my soundtrack.

so i set off down the streets, and opened my eyes. this is what i saw. the row of old, almost broken down buildings on st catherine full of grafitti, juxtaposed against the huge sleek glass concordia buildings. almost every face you pass on the street has lived another life on the other side of the world. houses almost bursting their stone foundations, painted in bright colors, detailed woodwork made with love and skill that disappeared years ago. i could go on and on... clearly most of my lingering love for montreal is wrapped up in the architecture. not a surprise, montreal was my first sighting of things on a grand scale, buildings older than parts of canada, and as a dreamy 13 year old, i was impressed. some things will always stick with you.

now here are the things that i've stopped loving, or never did to begin with. never got into the club scene - hate crowded spaces. enjoying the terrace scene in the summer is a nice idea... but gets terribly expensive. besides, so many of those places are about seeing and being seen... a kind of show. the shopping is great, but can quickly turn into an obsession with appearance... ok, so i am kind of hitting on my issues with the general lifestyle.
there is the buzz of city life, exciting as a teenager, but as a somewhat sensitive and intuitive adult, the incessant pace seems unnecessary and exhausting. and last but not least, all the favorite haunts have either closed, moved, or changed so much that the original charm has been lost. (Griffintown anyone???)

that being said, montreal still has some very beautiful people that are grounded and maintain their connection with what's meaningful. (these people also take frequent trips to the country to decompress....) i have learned more about how to live a balanced life from people here than i have in all my years at home. montreal was where i came to get my feet under me when i was 18 and living on my own for the first time, and after moving back from scotland, feeling homesick and reeling from some personal losses. montreal has always been there to cradle me, then toughen me up for whatever is next.

these days it's been a lot of tough love... which makes me wonder about what's in store....
right now, coccooned in my apartment, it's about escape. escaping in my mind to my future home, escaping through music to other (warmer) parts of the world like senegal and mali. and this time it's not about being a discontented person, it's just the knowlege that there is so much more out there to experience and be immersed in... we have this mistaken belief in the western world that our standards and lifestyle are what the rest of the world should strive for. but taking a step back..... if all humans are equal, that would mean that each group of people has something equally important to offer in how they live their lives.

i will never be comfortable with living in one place, for this reason. there is just too much to learn. and to give. everywhere.

so, montreal: we've had some amazing times, lots of milestones happened here, i will always love you for the friends you've given me. and thanks for being a stepping-stone to other things. couldn't have done it without you. but now... it's time to move on.

PS: i really really hate your winter.

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