Epilogue of My Summer Vacation

I have been accused — quite correctly, I think — of being overly analytical. That’s definitely a big part of who I am, but I recognize more and more that it’s not completely innate. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to “get off” on gratuitous sentimentality — the kind that’s the fodder of reality TV shows like Home Improvement. Hallmark sweetness will probably always make me want to wretch, and I have next to no patience for emotional impulses in the professional realm. And as for me settling down with someone, I’ve long ago stopped believing that “The One” is out there, just waiting to be found, after which domestic bliss will follow. It just hasn’t been a preoccupation for me. Plus, I still have a great big cyncial streak that says when thinking of coupledom, “Great! That way we’ll get to spit toothpaste down the same drain each morning.”

When I set aside that cynicism, though, I recognize that I’ve changed on so many fronts in recent years that it’s ridiculous to believe that I haven’t changed in that respect as well. I can’t bring myself to commit to writing some of the thoughts that are crossing my mind at this very moment because they would come across as pompous or braggy. I might one day be able to say these things in person to a select few of you, but not in writing. But I will say that my decision to move to Montréal, followed by my recent trip there and the chance meeting of El Poema, have finally made crystal clear in the last day or two the lesson I was meant to learn through Indiana Jones.

I don’t believe in horoscopes, especially those in the Coffee News, a free advertising rag distributed in coffeeshops around town. But this did cause me to pause a little.

(July 24 – Aug. 23)

Unexpected trips could be exciting this week. Follow your instinct if romance appears from a distant locale. This could be it.
Lucky number: 4, 12, 26, 33, 38, 42

How cute is that? I saw this the day after I booked plane tickets, accommodations and a car for Labour Day weekend in Montréal. While some of you might tee-hee at the “This could be it” part, I’m more struck by what’s not written but has been a big theme for me lately: not accumulating regrets.

I do know the difference between Spanish and Portuguese, by the way. But I’ve long loved fado, which means “fate” or “destiny” in Portuguese. And “Chuva,” meaning rain, is one of my favorites. Fado just seems perfect right about now…

Mariza — Chuva (mp3, 5.7 MB, 4:03)

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part 5

When I announced the dates of my visit to Cleopatrick, I suggested that we should go to Montréal together. I very much enjoy the company of his housemates, but I also really wanted some time just with him, in the city where he has lived most of his life, so that I could get an insider’s perspective on what I should be looking for in a move to Montréal. So I was very pleased to hear him declare shortly after my arrival on Monday that he’d set aside Wednesday as the day for our trip into the city, for it indicated he had been successful in appeasing his housemates about this plan. (Never mind the details.)

I was only able to leave El Poema a voice-mail message early Monday evening. I figured he was still sleeping off what was ailing him, but at least he would know that I would be back in Montréal shortly. (Turns out El Poema never checks his messages.) Despite being exhausted, I stayed up talking with Cleopatrick until 3:00 am, which is consistent behaviour for us.

The next day was surprisingly delightful: most of his family visited, and I’m particularly fond of his parents. The day ended with a huge bonfire in the front yard. By that point I noticed that I started to keep more to myself, although still enjoying the company. You can well imagine where my thoughts were drifting.

Cleopatrick and I left for Montréal shortly after noon on Wednesday without firm plans other than explore neighbourhoods and eventually getting El Poema to join us for dinner. We followed the Chemin du Roy into the city instead of the freeway, and stopped twice on our way in. It’s during our second stop that I noticed that I had almost no power left in my cell phone although I had recently charged it, because I had left it on in analog (rather than digital) areas. This caused me to panic a little: I didn’t have El Poema’s number written down on paper. Fortunately, Cleopatrick knew of a place not far from where we were where I could buy a cell-phone charger for the car. My reaction to the low-power cell phone still amuses me; I’m not usually given to teenager-like panic attacks over some guy.

Crisis resolved and cell phone charging, Cleopatrick got me to drive around the Hochelaga Maisonneuve neighbourhood which I’d mentioned I thought promising. He got me to park off Bennett and, the moment I stepped out of the car, I immediately felt at home. As we walked around the neighbourhood, I thought of how Stephanie would have a field day when visiting me: “She’ll never run out of urban landscapes for her camera in this area alone!” A bit later, we came across a street that prompted me to say, “Oh, I have to live on Bourbonnière because it’ll be too sweet to hear Stephanie trying to pronounce that name!” Eventually, Cleopatrick and I stopped for a coffee at the Presse-Café on the corner of Pie IX and Ontario and looked at ads for apartments in the area. And let me tell you: it is *SO* settled that I’ll be looking in this area; the prices are the same or even less than the bargain I have in Halifax! The differences are that heat is not included and, for most, I will have to get my own fridge and stove, but whatever! Once settled, I will be in about the same situation as in Halifax, with the difference that Ontario Street is like Halifax’s Agricola Street on steroids — unique little restaurants alongside pawn shops, an edgy yet safe feeling… In fact, I suspect even safer in spots than Agricola.

It was nearing 6:00 when we returned to the car, from where I immediately called El Poema. Since he doesn’t check his voice mail, he was extremely surprised to hear that I was back in Montréal, albeit only for a few hours. We arranged to pick him up in about a half hour.

He was waiting for us on the steps of his apartment. I was so excited I could bust, and Cleopatrick’s comment upon seeing him cross the street towards us was, “Ooooh yeah… The pictures really don’t do him justice.” Much to my pleasure and distraction, the two of them got along like a house on fire — the distraction causing me to miss the street on which I was supposed to turn. But soon enough we found ourselves in the Village seeking a quiet outside terrace where to have supper. As we were walking down Ste-Cat, El Poema and I hand in hand, he abruptly voiced what we were both feeling at the very moment: “I’m so happy and so nervous about seeing you again, but what a wonderful surprise.”

To be honest, my memories of the whole evening are disjointed. They’re at once a blur and razor sharp — from dinner, where I whispered to El Poema that he was at the bonfire at Cleopatrick’s the night before though he didn’t know it, to the hours in Parc Mont Royal overlooking the city, where El Poema DJed with his cell phone, to driving to the Olympic Stadium at midnight, where El Poema took me in his arms and said, “You really are crazy …and beautiful.” Intoxicating, fun, spontaneous, and bitter sweet all at the same time. Dropping him off home in the wee hours of the morning, not knowing what if anything would be next, was the hardest. Neither of us knew what to say.

The next day as I was driving back to Nova Scotia, my cell phone rang just after Rivière-du-Loup, so I pulled over. And I’d be lying if I said that what I heard surprised me.