Archive for March, 2013

Montreal For A Few Winter Days

There were two summers I spent in the Berkshires while I was in college. I worked in one of the many summer stock theaters that pop up every year and lived in small houses at the edge of a lake just off of a turn on the Appalachian Trail. The work was long and tiring; 3 shows in 2 months, one day off a week, and in most cases rehearsals all day and performances at night. But we found countless amounts of time for fun; I always called it summer camp where we got a small stipend. We canoed under full moons, went swimming with frogs beneath starry skies, and one week at midnight before our day off, 8 of us decided we would drive to Montreal. We were young; the movie SWINGERS had just come out and where they kept saying “Vegas Baby” we kept yelling “Canada Baby” as we drove through the night. We made it to Montreal in time for sunrise, we walked around for 2 hours, had breakfast, I called and left a French voicemail message for my mother, and then we drove home. They were a wonderful 2 summers I spent finding my independence, learning what it felt like to work in a professional theater, and making memories; but our night drive to Montreal has always remained one of my fondest memories of those times.

When we made that drive over a decade and a half ago, I hadn’t yet started to travel alone. I hadn’t found the joy I would discover in other countries and cultures yet. I hadn’t realized that I would one day desire more for the experiences of travel then those of theater as I did back then. I felt alive that night and exhilarated. It has been years and I have never made it back up to Canada in all of my trips. This past New Year’s my friend Gina and I tried to make plans to return north but our hopes for a holiday escape were snowed in when Montreal had one of their worst snows in years. Last weekend we made up for the delay.

It was a quick trip, a long weekend, a drive through light sprinklings of delicate snow, and 36 hours in a new city. We made the most of our time. Loving the French, ahhh the French spoken. We roamed the streets of Vieux Montreal, Ville-Marie, and Le Plateau. We escaped the cold in the world of endless underground malls, inside Marche Bonsecours, and the Beaux Arts Museum. We marveled inside Notre-Dame Basilica and lit candles before stained glass windows. We ate amazing steak frites at L’entrecote Saint-Jean; had long awaited Jewish Deli at Schwartz’s (I never imagined I would say that but Bari and everyone else are correct, not to miss); glasses of wine, cafe au lait et croissants, and some more splendid food. I remembered how much I love discovering a new city, its streets, its people, its metro, and discovering myself amidst it. I am able to see new aspects of myself every time I travel; I see where I am independent and where I am vulnerable, where I can go forward and where I can stay still. When I am in a new place I find myself perfectly content in the moment, I should learn how to carry that part of travel home with me.

It had been over a decade since that summer night I drove to sip coffee in a cafe under green trees as the sun rose, but that image seemed not as distant as I sat over coffee and wine again under snowy skies this time. It was a simple trip but somehow it felt like just the respite I needed. I needed to feel my passport in my fingers; I needed to see that I didn’t have to go that very far away to fill the call of a new place (and to speak French felt so nice). All of those summers ago in the Berkshires someone said I might look back on those years as some of my best and I am not sure I would say that but I would say time has an odd way to make memories more fond, more vivid, more appealing. Like a photo the edges fade, the feelings of struggle or uncertainty recede into the background and the image of a fine night remain. Montreal all of these years later remained the same for me a lovely memory then and now. Merci.


03 2013