downtheriverafterlaughter

(or, Montreal-Love: Part 1.5)

In June, we went to a Burner event in Squamish, and camped by the Elaho river. We were up all night partying, as one might expect, and we watched the sun come up while sitting in dusty lawn chairs on a ridge overlooking the river. We bundled up in blankets, listening to the vague thump of electronic music still playing somewhere, and were entertained by the rhythms & music that environmental sounds can make when you’re sleep-deprived. It reminded me of the imagined techno music in the engine of the school bus that I rode home after my first rave, so many years ago.

We nodded off there, in the chairs, and the sounds around me were both chaotic, and ordered simultaneously. The river was laughing – Laughing and singing. I could hear it’s voice so clearly, almost words: “downtheriverafter, downtheriverafter”, and wondered if it was from a song or a poem that I couldn’t remember.
What I did remember though, was that I am a River Girl…. born on a little piece of earth floating in the middle of a river. I’d never really thought of myself that way, but there I was, letting the river sing me to sleep, and despite my odd relationship with water, it was so familiar and loving. Saint Lawrence River Girl. Montreal. Home.

It struck me then that I needed to show Frank a Montreal-summer. Some of that crazy July heat, Tam Tam, rainstorms. The homesickness hit me so hard, and had so much of my identity packed into it that I wondered how I could live so far away from it. I listened to the river singing to me, and I thought about the water I grew up near: stagnant, polluted, and so very quiet; almost no voice at all anymore. Not like this river… free and laughing.

It’s hard for me to flow in Montreal too. Much as I love to visit, and would like to spend longer chunks of time visiting, as a place to live, it feels too constrained to me. The trees are tight and gnarled from cold winters, and the waters are confined to canals. I need the influence of the west coast: tall, lush trees that drink too much rain, and fast moving waters that laugh.

But I honestly believe that it’s by contrast that we develop appreciation, and I think it’s that contrast that gives me such an acute appreciation for both cities. I love being a West-Coasting-Montrealer.

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