Montreal, Day Five
We didn’t do much on the last day, because our train was due to leave at eleven. We packed and walked to the station, where I found a Tim Hortons and enjoyed my ritualistic muffin.
For some reason I hadn’t slept well that last night. Usually I can count on a solid eight hours no matter where I am or when I go to bed, but that night I only got three, maybe four hours tops.
I lay in bed and thought about what was waiting for me back in Toronto. I’m moving on August 1st, and while the new apartment is beautiful, I’m not particularly good with transitions. And I knew there was a lot of paperwork waiting for me back in the city. A lot of fussy details to attend to. A lot of things that could go wrong.
So I mentally left Montreal before I physically left Montreal.
On the way to the train station I wished that I could stay longer. There was a dreamy slowness to the time we spent in Montreal, which is strange because we kept busy. Even though we were busy we were never rushed or frantic. There was always time to explore an interesting side street or stop at a store.
I think this may have been the best vacation I’ve ever had. Vacations have always been a series of experiments for me. I’ve spent my life trying to do them well, and learning from previous mistakes, and making some new ones in the process.
This was the first time I got almost all of it right. The only thing I’d want to change the next time is the food situation. Hannah’s strategy about creating a list of safe foods and bringing some with me is a good one.
One of the biggest reasons why Montreal was a success was that the two of us were traveling together. Vacation compatibility is a very particular thing. You can get along great with someone and not travel well together. Maybe one person loves shopping and the other person loves museums, or one person wants a structured itinerary and the other person wants to go with the flow. Two people can be different in any number of ways when on a vacation together, and every difference has the potential to be a pebble in the shoe.
Hannah and I happened to be on exactly the same wavelength. I’m looking forward to traveling with her again. Usually after I go on a vacation I’m burned out and don’t want to go on another one for a long time.
But I could go back to Montreal with Hannah tomorrow. Even though the city is a prickly pain in the ass when it comes to accessibility. Even though I can’t understand anything that’s going on around me.
It’s a good city. It’s a comfortable city. It feels only a step or two removed from Toronto, which is just about the highest compliment I can give. If they only got their shit together and realized that wheelchair users were human beings (and potential customers) it’d be perfect.
Being in Montreal reminded me of the time I spent at my uncle’s cottages when I was a kid. He owned three of them, and lent them to my extended family for a week every summer. The days drifted by, slow and easy, things happened, or didn’t, there were generally a few bumps along the way, but life was good.
It’s strange that being in Montreal would remind me of being in a sleepy lakeside village on the Bruce Peninsula. But my time in both places were governed by happenstance and serendipity.
Maybe that’s the right attitude to have on a vacation. Let things happen, or not, don’t worry so much. It’ll be fine. If you don’t like this particular moment, there’s another one coming. And if you spot an interesting detour or a place to buy ice cream, you’d better take the opportunity. You’re living in a bubble, after all, and pretty soon it’s going to pop.