Thompson House. This is where I built the foundations of who I was to become. It was here that I met Tim Conley, Faizal Forrester, Colin, Melanie and Szollosy. It was here that I spent the other half of my weekly food budget on their $5 soup and sandwich special on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was here that my second girlfriend told me she hated me. It was here that I was humiliated because I was the only one in my group to find no way forward or out after my M.A. degree. It was here that I met my ex-wife for the first time; I had told her that I liked the “rust in her sweater” and she thought I had said something about liking her breasts. Words, words, words. Perhaps the best indicator of how far I have come is that during my entire M.A. degree I had to borrow a computer from friends to write my thesis, but now I am sitting here with my own MacBook Pro, and IPhone and two other Macs at home. Back in my grad days, I was at the mercy of others, whereas I am now only at the mercy of my own intentions.
Sixteen years have passed since I was last inside these walls. Actually, I am not certain that alumni are allowed in, but I have a way about me that can get me inside the places I need to go. Sixteen years is a lifetime, but in my case it is over two completely distinct lifetimes. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that if I am beginning my third, then it should include a passing through of this place.
My third and final day in Montreal began with a breakfast of leftovers from Pied du Cochon. Stuffed pig’s trotter is not exactly the healthiest way to start the morning, but certainly the most fitting. The plan was to head up to Rachel and St. Denis to procure a few distinctly Quebecois Christmas presents for my mom and a friend. The shop L’il Soleil had a few edgy items that epitomized the type of thing I love to buy for others: pieces that reflect unique visions of the imagination. By the end, I had spent a few bills, but got exactly what I wanted. Then it was across the street to pick up a pair of all-weather running tights. Since I began running this season, I have been wishing that I had a bit of spandex to keep the friction down and keep me warm. With this latest tattoo I have really had to think about friction, as it is taking much longer to heal due to the dry nature of that part of my body. Such is the way of things.
Next came the mountain. Mont-Royal is always a bitch to climb and walk up. The last time I did this was probably when I dragged my mom up to the top when she and Norman visited in my second year at McGill. On this walk, though, I was also dragging up 45 pounds of luggage. Still, at the top, the air breeze was a relief, and as “Landslide” played on my iTunes, the lines “I climbed a mountain and turned around…” meant so much more to me than it ever has before.
So that is Montreal. All of the ghosts have been dealt with except those at the train station; the place where so many hellos and goodbyes have been said over the past years. If there is one compensation for this final box, then it is that I will never have to say goodbye to another person there ever again. I will be able to pick up a few pastries for tomorrow’s lunch, and they sell French wines there, so it is not all bad. The six hour train ride will have me watching The Trip and Linotype, and I hope to write another scene from my novel. Given that the four photographs I shot on Saturday morning paid for this entire trip, presents and Pied du Cochon included, I feel like this life I have built for myself is pretty darn self-sustaining and synergetic.