Thursday, 19 February 2015

Beauty is in the Eye

Riding the Amtrak train from New York to Montreal was stunningly beautiful.  Penn Station in NY is the busiest train station in the country, and the ride from NY to Montreal is considered one of the most beautiful and scenic in the world.  Late September / early October the trees were burning with fall colours and the scenery was stunning. 

There was a beautiful, dark-haired French Canadian woman at the front-most compartment of the train who had crawled up underneath the plexiglass ceiling so that she could see as far forward as possible, and she audibly whispered "yesssss..." when the train was about to go through a tunnel.  Her excitement was infectious.

In the midst of all that beauty, I took one picture.  It was of an incredibly boring cornfield.  I was still sick, seeing everything through a blur of pain and nausea.  I could appreciate how beautiful everything was.  The *feeling* that came with it was like looking through a window at something far away.  My camera barely came up out of my pocket.

The first night in Montreal I was humbled by the kindness of friends.  A recent acquaintance from the burn had invited me to stay.  After being on the road for so long I had become accustomed to an insulated pad and a sleeping mat, or a hostel mattress with a handful of sheets.  This place felt like someone's home.  Books that spoke of my friend's interests stacked shelves, the living room was scattered with signs of his hobbies and technical curiosities, and the kitchen was both stocked with equipment that a real person would use and also decorated as if a human being who felt at home was there.  Sick, homesick and burnt out, I picked the key up from a hidden spot out front and felt immediately like I had stepped out of the cold into a place where there was a fire in the hearth and warm water in the bath.  It felt doubly generous that he let me stay while he was away himself, but when I landed I fell into a deep sleep and thanked my lucky stars to be in a place where I knew I was welcome.  Montreal and I started on good terms.

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