I needed to go back to Montréal by myself.
I needed to go back by myself to reconnect to a city that I love deeply.
I needed to go back to the place where I started my adult life.
A place that pushed me and stretched me to the point of anxiety.
A place where those anxieties were overcome.
A place where I flourished, despite the odds.
I had forgotten all that I had accomplished.
I had written it off and put it behind me.
I had forgotten how I learned to navigate the city all by myself.
I had forgotten how many places I explored.
I had forgotten how I had felt like an outsider from the French Québécois and yet felt invited to be myself.
I had forgotten how I tried so many new things, despite feeling insecure.
I had forgotten how much joy I found in the parks, the mountain and the architecture.
On this trip, I had grand aspirations to explore Mile-End, view art galleries, maybe purchase some art, do some clothes shopping, sit in a cafe, eat wonderful meals, etc...
Instead, what I found is that instead of interacting with the city, I simply needed first to open back up the doors to myself and the memories that I have with the city.
It is a start, a beginning of many visits to Montréal.
Although I had planned to be alone, I drove from Toronto with a friend and dropped her off in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue which is an older village on the very western-most point of the island of Montréal. There was much snow on the road and I almost skidded into a parking lot snowbank, as I was going too fast for the conditions. With that as a warning, I proceeded on the 2.5 hour drive towards Sherbrooke with caution.
The sun was starting to set, which cast marvellous light and shadows across the mountains and snow-covered fields. Snow blew across the mostly empty highway like tiger stripes, creating a serene and enchanted drive through the Eastern Townships.
After getting a bit lost and almost turning into oncoming traffic (yikes!) I finally made it to my friend's house. Much wine and cheese was consumed and we caught up over many hours and many glasses of wine. And I subsequently purged. When was the last time that I did that?
After a good sleep-in, I felt not exactly like a million bucks, but cleansed in a strange way.
I drove back to Montréal and went straight to Jean-Talon market and parked the car.
So started my walk through Mile-End to view a few art galleries.
Having had a later start than scheduled and feeling quite hungry, my priority was food. Not deviating too much from plan, I walked from Jean-Talon and St. Denis across to St. Laurent and down to Rue Saint Viateur and dined at the vegetarian cafe Le Cagibi. (Ahem, Julia -- how much did I think of you!!!)
After perusing some galleries and admiring the neighbourhood, I retrieved the car and met my friend back at the hotel. We braved the winter weather and found our way to a typical Old Montréal restaurant for dinner. It was a lovely meal and a relaxing evening.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and drove back to Toronto.
Montréal is a wonderful city for the senses. It is a place where the arts can flourish and are appreciated. That includes the art of wine, food, fashion, architecture as well as the fine and performing arts.
It is this appreciation that I want to tap more into. The sensuousness of French culture is something that demands my attention.
And so, Montréal, à la prochaine!
|Jenn & her lovely house in Sherbrooke.|
|Drive back to MTL|
|Bathroom stall graffiti at Jean-Talon market. |
Why does even the graffiti seem more refined?
|Yes, there was accordion music at the entrance.|
|Winter in Montreal.|
|I love the steeples that pop up throughout the city.|
|Snow pile behind art gallery.|
|Typical apartments with lovely wrought iron staircases.|
|Winter festival at Place des Arts|
|That's a zip-line---what a great winter activity.|
|Outside the Hotel Window #1|
And finally/finalement, despite the focus on myself and Montréal, I miss Henry like crazy. Here's a video from last week, to make me smile, and perhaps you too.