Today’s the first day of my summer vacation, and yes, I really need it as my previous post attests. Even though each day and each week goes by quickly, it felt like a painfully slow crawl to this date. And given the stress I’ve been feeling, I made a point of refusing to make any travel plans until today, although I always knew I would head to the Maritimes for part of my time off.
However, the last week, I must admit, was delightful in that my brother and sister-in-law came visiting. The last two years they also came but I wasn’t here: in 2008 I was in Mexico and last year I was in Halifax. So, it was nice to actually be here and host — not that they require any hosting, mind you. In a way, that’s what makes them such delightful guests. They just take off in the morning to explore or shop or both and come back in the early evening.
I don’t mean this in the pejorative way — quite the opposite! — but the first word that comes to my mind after observing them for a few days is “cute.” They really are cute! They’ve both turned 50 this year and have been married for 30 years. Yet my sister-in-law is still a bombshell and looks almost exactly as she did when she married my brother. (I can write that because I said it in her face when she was here, noting that she clearly had the good fortune of inheriting her father’s genes, who up until 90 looked like he was bearly 70.) However, it’s the way they play off each other that reveals not only that they’re beyond familiar with each other, but that they’re each other’s best friend and ally. I’m sure they’ve had their moments like any couple with two (now adult) kids, but they preserve a little je ne sais quoi that is both enviable and admirable.
We never talked about the fact I’m gay until I decided to marry and then I thought it was ridiculous to keep the subject taboo. I wanted no more and no less recognition than I’d bestowed upon their relationship. It’s one of those things whereby I felt badly not just because it was the worst-kept secret of the last 25+ years, but because I feared they would somehow feel slighted for not having been officially let on the “secret” for all that time, especially since they’re such “live and let live” people. But not only did they not take offense; they were the first to ask when the wedding would be. Except I had already rushed into it by then.
So, really, the official recognition among us is still relatively new and they met their brother-in-law only once. Their first night in town, we were sitting at the kitchen table talking about this and that, when they mentioned how they wished their elder daughter might partner up with a guy with whom she studied interior design. Knowing that said daughter already has a boyfriend, I wasn’t totally sure what they meant and clearly the puzzled look on my face must have been plain to see. My brother picked up on that and said, “Oh, no no no. As business partners. Let put it this way: It wouldn’t work with them otherwise because they have the same taste in guys.” I burst out laughing, especially because of the way he delivered that line.
On the Tuesday evening we met up for supper at La Strega in the Village. Whenever my brother had been in town, we went to numerous places together but never to the Village, but I wanted them to experience it during the summer when Ste-Catherine is closed to car traffic. I met them outside the Beaudry metro station, whereupon my sister-in-law declared as she looked around, “So, this is Gay Street, huh?” To which I replied, “Pretty much,” although it wasn’t long before she noticed how the street closure attracts all kinds of people, gay or straight. By the time we (or, actually, just I) were having dessert at Kilo, she remarked on how relaxed the ambiance is and how pleasant it is to be sitting outside at 11:00 pm with so many people still milling about.
Back home that night, my brother and I stayed up way too late talking and reminescing, particularly about Dad. Through that conversation I found out that the priest I so dislike after what he did at our father’s funeral is dead. He boarded a plane to South America on his own two feet — a Catholic priest goes to South America? isn’t that how they handle pedophile priests? — but came back in a pine box. “So I guess now both my namesakes are dead,” I told me brother.
They left my apartment Thursday morning, planning to stop at the IKEA in Brossard before taking the road back to New Brunswick. That’s how they do vacations: they spontaneously decide to go somewhere and they go. So, I’m taking a page of their vacation roadmap. I’ll leave Montréal Tuesday morning if I can get Junior’s brakes fixed on Monday and come back mid-week, possibly with Jain (a.k.a. the Pastry Monster) in tow.