How Montreal, Canada Cut Through Me

 

When I arrived in Montreal, my stomach turned as I smiled when I saw the snow. After twenty hours traveling, I felt the cold wind cut through my face as I stepped out the airport and it was like a knife that could either kill me or cut the bread that’d feed me. I was happy yet I was terrified. I have never traveled alone in my life and the first time I do it, I chose to be in another hemisphere for six months. I had no family, no friends and I did not speak any French.

 

I caught a cab and felt like a child as I stared outside the window and took everything in.  I was so stimulated, not only visually, because Montreal was beautiful but mentally because I had just realized that I did not know this city, I did not know where to go, how to take the bus, what social conducts were acceptable, I didn’t even know how to dress for -19°C… Just like a kid, I would have to watch and imitate so I would eventually learn how to be part of this culture. And so that’s what I did, I watched…

 

As a week went by and I still had no friends, I was alone and depressed. I could not concentrate on simple tasks such as doing laundry so I decided to take a walk. As I sat on a bench at a park not so near the place I was staying, I started thinking about how everything would just go on even if I used the knife. Not even one person in that city would notice my disappearance and a tear ran down my face. I needed human contact so I approached strangers on the street and asked them where would be a fun place for me to go and have fun.

 

Late that night, I went to St. Laurent Boulevard and just looked for a place I could not be alone because I could not afford to do so. I entered an Irish Pub and asked for a beer as I sat on the counter. I was never a drinker but it seemed to be the only thing I could do at that moment so I could stay far away from that knife.

 

After a couple of beers, Anthoine approached me and asked me what I was doing alone. I told him I had just arrived in town and didn’t have any friends yet. He listened patiently to my laments and kindly told me about the time he went to Africa by himself. How hard it was at first but how much he learned from it. That was what I needed, some empathy. Because even though I knew how incredibly fortunate I was to travel to another country and experience a different culture, I was still lonely.

 

As we continued talking, I realized he was young, cute and, just like this name, praiseworthy for his academic achievements. I liked him, so I asked him to spend the night with me. And he did. We talked for hours, he told me about his childhood, how he liked his wine and listened to my stories until we both fell asleep.

 

The next morning, we kissed and I asked him if he wanted coffee. He did. As we sat across each other quietly, he took my hands and told me I was weird.

 “Why?”, I asked.

“You do weird things with your fingers”, he said as he referred to my double joints.

“It’s okay though, everybody is a little weird”, I said as I cut the bread.

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