Montréal, you are in my heart and on my mind today.
After last night’s election win by the PQ, and the subsequent nutcase-with-a-gun drama that left one dead, I can’t help but think of all of the years I spent living in Montréal, and in Québec. And despite my desire to wax political in this space — because I really do believe the PQ getting elected is a terrible thing and that trying to kill someone (only to kill someone else) is worse, and indicative of various things — I’m going to wax poetic and nostalgic instead. There are many reasons I love Montréal. I think more than anything else, it’s the place where I really became me, the me that you guys know (or don’t); when I walk through it, all these beautiful memories play out in front of me like I’m watching home movies of myself having significant life moments. I realized that today, while in Toronto. I was chatting with a guy outside of the Starbucks at Front St. West and York St. Around the corner there’s this little bit of space adorned with benches and decorated with some greenery.
“Me and my brother used to crash there after partying all night,” I told him. “We’d stay out until 3 or 4, and then crash there until the first GO Train was heading back to Scarborough.” I have many places entwined with memories here in Toronto, but they’re always so matter-of-fact: I did this, there, with this person, in this year.
In Montréal, my place-memories are always significant, emotionally. In a good way, even if some of them are tinged with heartbreak and such.
Every time I walk a certain stretch, downtown, near the intersection of Sherbrooke West and McGill College, I think of seeing Mean Girls with someone who left a significant mark on my life (and my heart). When I walk a certain section of Ste-Catherine West at night, I think of a poem a friend of mine wrote in first year that spoke of “college boy strip clubs” and his silly, bygone “promise to never be friends with a smoker.” His name was Dhanu; he was a genius and he went on to attend med school at UAB. (A quick bit of Googling suggest he is now living in Houston, TX).
I can’t walk past Green Room without remembering it’s where I went to meet some friends after getting a bit drunk with Chuck Palahniuk after I moderated this thing featuring him at Montréal’s downtown Indigo. I’ll never forget how kind and generous Chuck was; after being assailed by bigwigs (who wanted more of his flesh) after he signed autographs for hours, he calmly told them that he promised me (he called me “David”) that he would get a drink with me after our dog-and-pony. “And that’s what I think I’m going to do,” he added. It was great. We killed two bottles of red wine and talked about the Clash (and punk rock in general), about writing, about how I scared him half to death while we were onstage.
He wouldn’t let me pay for anything.
I remember falling in love — even if I didn’t know it then — while doing some lazy Saturday shopping on the West side of St-Denis, above Duluth. I remember seeing my pal Rich Aucoin (who, while I was writing this, messaged me on Facebook) play his skinny little heart out for eight or nine people at Cagibi and knowing, years before everyone else (outside of Halifax, that is) that this guy was going to be huge. I fondly recall meeting a guy who I’d become best friends with while playing trivia at Brutopia.
There was also this time I hit big on blackjack at the casino one winter night in 2003. Knowing that I’d be able to pay my rent and bills for a few months afforded me a moment of true bliss and painlessness; being hopelessly broke takes its toll on your psyche, and, accordingly, getting some breathing room felt like a ten-minute-long orgasm.
The list goes on and on but I won’t bore you (any further). I guess it’s just that today, of all days, with so much to say that words don’t seem nearly enough, I feel Montréal inside me, reverberating.
And, yeah, mourning a little bit.
I’m from Scarborough, but Montréal is and will always be my home. I think it’s worthwhile for me to remember that every now and again.
Be well, you guys.
This is the fifth post in my #30posts challenge. Don’t know what that is? Read this.