Solace in Skylines

“I’m a million different people from one day to the next but I am here, in my mind.  I am here.”—The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony

During my first few years in Montreal, my parents lived in Massachusetts.  It was one of the rare times since I moved out at eighteen that we actually lived in the same time zone.  So during that period of time, I was able to do things such as spontaneously go home for random holidays like Mother’s Day and birthdays, school vacations or just because I wanted to.  Now they live in Portland, Oregon, two time zones away, and I miss my family.

But one of the things that I loved about that drive, besides just the nature of a road trip itself….for I LOVE road trips, was the road that led back into the city of Montreal.  From Highway 10, you cross over the Champlain Bridge, and there, looming in the distance; twinkling on the other side of the river was my all-time favorite urban skyline:  Montreal.

Driving over that bridge, even after having just left the comforting embrace of family, was the only time ever in my life that I have felt that visceral feeling of “home.”  Seeing that skyline was the first time that I felt I had a place; a sense of familiarity.  As in, “Ahh, it feels so good to be home.”

Since being back, I’m having a hard time feeling grounded.  I walk around the city, somewhat aimlessly.  So many people I know here, and yet I feel like a stranger in a strange land.  So much free time to fill and yet, where does the time go?

I feel torn in a million different directions.  Part of me is still in the country, where life is quiet and green and simple.  Part of me is with my family, whom I rarely see.  Part of me is roaming this amazing planet, travelling so light and free.  Landing is hard to do.

The city has this sneaky way of seeping in.  When I was teaching in Kentucky or Charlottetown, I enjoyed all of that quiet time off.  I took long walks for walkings’ sake.  I knitted or read books.  Now, I give myself “errands” and I walk with purpose.  Either walking the dog or walking to these made up places for made up reasons.  And when I’ve walked for 2 hours and only bought a coffee, I feel guilty for the fictional chores that I did not get done.

On these walks, I try to see the metropolis with fresh eyes.  I take pictures of places I’ve seen a hundred times, but never stopped to really look.  I stop to rest on park benches, give my pooch a sip of water and watch the people pass by.  And if there is one thing Montreal is good for, (and there are MANY things Montreal is good for), it is people watching.  So many people, so many styles.    I walk around and try to let the romance of Montreal wash over me, which is not hard because this is an enchanted place.

Tapping into the hipper vibe of the city, I went to the Osheaga Music Festival.  Now, I’m a little jaded because I went to Osheaga the very first year it started.  What once was $80 for all three days, is now at least $85 per day!  But, this was the first year ever that the festival had sold out, so with 120,000 people in attendance, it was pulsating with energy.  Large crowds like that can often give me a slight panic attack, but I walked around with my palms open, taking deep breaths and really trying to absorb.  It probably wasn’t Woodstock, but there was freedom.  Peace.  Love.  Random kissing, hugging, mud and dancing with strangers.  It was awesome.

On the last day of the festival, when a free ticket had been dropped into my lap last minute, and poor cell phone service made it next to impossible to locate my friends, I wandered the venue alone.   I stood high up on the hill in front of the main stage with 120,000 free-loving hippies dancing at my feet, their energy infectious and palpable.  Standing tall in the breeze, a rainstorm having broken the heat wave, for it was the first time I’d felt cool, there, looming in the distance, behind the stage was my skyline.  Montreal.  The Farine Five Roses sign blinked off to my left, and the city shimmered in all its romantic glory.  And high above it all was the moon.

I might not be grounded.  I might feel a little lost.  But I am here.  And it is home.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Robin
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 20:15:05

    I think PEI is calling you back.. tee hee…


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