Moving on from Montreal (but I know it’ll do just fine without me)

Montreal is an amazing and wonderfilled city. The history is an incredible foundation of story and depth that permeates and flourishes with every footstep you take. My final evening there I attended a bbq/dinner party. I’d been invited to by a fellow I met while he was walking his young yellow lab, Buddy, along the Lachine Canal the Sunday previous.

I was walking the canal taking photos of an old derelict factory. He mentioned it was going to be torn down in less than a year, and new condos were to be built. We had a sprawling conversation about the state of the world, history, the future, food security, inspiration, and more. It was precisely the sort of wonderful conversation that is part of my motivation for my travels and trips: to find and share greater perspectives and work to make our world a more awesome place.

I looked up the dinner party’s address on Google Maps. It would take about 9 minutes to walk there, and was in an old factory/warehouse. It looked nothing like an apartment. My intuition told me it was all good, my read on the fellow was that he was an interesting and competent man, and so I resolved to go, after my brain and ‘common sense/due diligence’ also had me send the info about where I was going, etc, to a friend that I could text later with an ‘all clear’. (+Sharon Strandskov has my back. Thanks Sharon/Baking Wizard of Awesomeness)

As I neared the building I could see lights on in the different areas, and a few signs of habitation, including one that advertised space for rent. As I entered the studio/loft I knew I was in for a good evening. Beatles music and the host greeted me, took and hung my jacket, and made me welcome. Fifteen plus people ranging from suits and evening dresses, to jeans and blazers, to a fellow in a lovely disarray of informal casual clothes, were spread about the room, near the pool table, by the food table, playing the various old-school video games in the corner. (For a brief time I had the high score on ‘Asteroids’, an early classic arcade game that came out the year I was born. I never everfigured I have the high score on an arcade version of that on this trip..)

There was a chair, from the old Montreal Forum where the Montreal Canadian’s used to play, that was autographed by Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard, and Jean Béliveau. (All hockey fans, Canadians, and Canadiens fans, will understand the niftyness of this)

Many conversations with cabinet makers, chefs, construction works, artists, security guards, and more, unfolded over the course of the evening. Happy Birthday was sung for two ladies who were sharing a birthday. It was a marvellous final evening in Montreal; punctuated by the most magnificent voice coming out of the most unassuming man.

I’d spoken with him earlier, his coke bottle glasses and casual dress looking somewhat out of place amongst the various evening wear of some of the others. He was a very affable and conversational middle-aged fellow in a red t-shirt, with a wise character face that had seen a lot of life and reflected a certain amount of contented wisdom. I seem to recall his saying he was a security guard, used to working evenings/nights because he wasn’t much of a morning person. At one point he got up on the riser where the computer/office space was, as the host changed the music to Gene McDaniels – 100 Pounds Of Clay The voice that boomed out of this gentleman silenced and awed the assembled crowd, and was so much better than that recorded version above. Depth, warmth, and power, resonated out from this humble amazing man with his deep huge singing voice. After one song he shook bowed his head in thanks, shook a few hands, and sat back down to listen to the conversations again. Of course later on a small group of us sat around talking about love, life, marriage, dating, and giving advice to the young men of the group. As is right. 😉

At 2am I returned to the apartment I’ve been staying at, was greeted by +Jean-François Im, and we stayed up for an hour more talking about cameras, my week’s stay in Montreal, and the fact that I was leaving by a rideshare for Halifax tomorrow morning at 7am.

It was 3:07am. I was sleepy. I worked out that I would set my alarm for 6am to give me time to pack, walk to the metro, wait for the next train, and be a little early to meet my ride (first impressions being important when you’re about to ride 14hrs in a car with strangers). So I set my 6am alarm for 3am accidentally, and soundly went to sleep.

I woke up and looked at my phone to see how much longer I had to sleep before my 6am alarm and discovered that it was 6:37am. I utilized the experience & routine gained in packing my backpack repeatedly over the last 5.5 months to pack in under 7 foggy headed minutes. With heart pounding, and backpack on, I gave the apartment a once over before putting the apartment keys on the table, turning the lock for the lower handle, and closing the door behind me. I was now locked out and moving on to the metro. There was no time to look back.

I sent a pre-emptive text to the people I was to meet, informing them that I might be 10 minutes late, as the toll collector at the metro station took his sweet sweet time making sure two loonies ($1 coin) and all four quarters equalled three dollars, and then hastily made my way to the stairs descending to the platform aimed in the Côte-Vertu direction. Going down the stairs, still focusing my eyes on the steps before me, I could imagine losing my balance with my backpack and cheese-gratering down them all. I heard the train approaching my platform, and I went faster. I heard the doors open as I neared the corner and, dodging a few random people exiting, slid between the doors with about fifteen seconds to spare. As much as a 6 foot 1 giant beardy ginger with a large backpack can slide between doors. Perhaps ‘lumber’ is a better word to use there. I lumbered through the doors with about fifteen seconds to spare.

The train moved along quietly on its rubber wheels, unique to the Montreal metro which runs entirely underground and was built in 1966 before the hosting of the 1967 Montreal Expo, and I caught my breath as I tried to remember how long the ride was to the next stop at Vendome where I was to disembark.

I made it to the arranged pick-up point at 6:58am with two minutes to spare. They arrived at around 7:05am. We packed my bag in the trunk and started off on the 14 hour drive to Halifax.

I realized I’d not yet had time to pee.