Saturday, 21 February 2015

Where Even the Graffiti is Beautiful

One of the best ways to get to know a place is by walking around.  When your feet are on pavement and your method of travel is your body the world passes by slowly enough that you can really take it in.  The way that people look at you tells you whether or not you're in the right neighborhood.  The way that the street smells points you towards the right kind of food.  The way that the streets are marked tells you about the spirit of the place.

One of the first telling signs - everywhere I went in the States the graffiti was present and ugly.  Even at its best it seemed like little more than a tag.  In Montreal, a stylized blue woman sat with a tranquil expression on sea serpents and stormy waves.

Even the defacement of public property was attractive.
It was also the heart of summer at the time.  There's a park in central Montreal called Mount Royal (Mont Royal) where there's a weekly informal "festival" called Tam Tams and on a hot, sunny day there are circus performers practicing and showing off doing slacklines and acro yoga.  There are LARPers doing sword fighting melees with padded weaponry in a gravel patch.  There's a market full of curios and charming items.  There's a drumming circle full of people who just show up to dance and drum - it varied between 20 and 50 people who turned up to drum in the few hours that I was there.

I had lunch in that park with a friend and her family and soaked it all in.  The thread of illness was still there but it felt like it had hit the high water mark and begun to recede.  Montreal was telling me that it loved me, and that everything would probably be ok. 

In British Columbia I had grown up without ever meeting someone who spoke French as a first language and to hear French spoken so consistently was still disarming, but so many things about being in Montreal reminded me that this was my home country.  It was less foreign than the United States despite the fact that the primary language being spoken wasn't English.

Here I was at home and feeling the heaviest part of the storm begin to break and fade away.  Here I was in a place where even the graffiti was beautiful.  Here I was in late September during summertime's last great effort, and beginning to feel that everything might just work out after all.

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