I had a dream last night. I know dreams are the most annoying to listen to - note to all “I had this cool dream the other night” snorasauruses - so I'll skip all the details about things that morphed into other things and how one of my legs was made of wood for a second and how I blacked out before I was dropped into the city.
I arrived in Montreal at night on a Friday. The streets were empty and dark. The air was warm and soft. I didn't really know where I was going but I had a direction in mind which required me to cut through a few bars. As I entered said bars I was immediately struck.
Oh the energy. Oh the feeling of being in a bar on a Friday night in Montreal. Every molecule in my body was tingling with sparkly transmissions. It is electric. But not in a spastic, cocaine induced, indie electro dance party kind of way. More in the manner that none of the old wooden chairs matched, the floor boards were slightly warped and worn, the decor was unassuming and institutionalized. Not shabby, but not glitzy either. The people were of ranging ages, all dressed in attractive but modest clothing. Nobody was there to get loser pissed and start a fight. Nobody was looking over their shoulder. Nobody even looked at me. They were all so enraptured with their experience of life at that moment that nothing else mattered. Everything the world could hold for them was in the people they were with and the love and friendship they were exchanging. There was no ego. Nobody was out to impress. Everyone was out to enjoy and live.
This is what I remember most about my time in Montreal. The lack of giving a fuck about all the bullshit in which we get wrapped up. The minority of douchebags looking to start some shit or flaunt their peacock feathers for anyone that might lend some validation to their booze soaked self loathing. The lack of shallow, catty biatches standing in a biatch pack, sussing out the competition. The deficit of exclusive, designer clad snobs. I mean, they all exist I'm sure. It's a big ass city. But they're just not as prominent, it would seem.
Montreal is brimming with people who just want to feel the rush of life and love. They feel. They create. They sing. They dance. They laugh. They see. They connect from every angle their energetic bodies will allow.
My GF and I spent a summer in Montreal some years ago and I've been dreaming of returning ever since. We met some of the most incredible and unforgettable people I have had to pleasure of adding to my cache of amazing elements of life.
We didn't do much that summer. We drank apricot ale in the park and smoked Belmonts on the stoop. We watched thunderstorms from the balcony and talked to each other for hours like we was on the bayou. We drank iced coffees in mason jars and made up songs while our friends learned to play the drums. We scoured the bars and danced to cover bands until we threw our necks out (ok, it was just me, alone on stage, moonlighting as Courtney Cox dancing in the dark). We rode bikes at 3am, revelling in the warm breeze in tank tops and shorts to come home, give our scarves ice baths and drape them on top of ourselves to try and fall asleep in the 38 degree melted peanut butter thick air of the night.
Nothing in it sounds extraordinary but it was a high because Montreal feels like life is sticking itself to every inch of your skin. That's the magic. It's not jumping out of a plane, it's not getting barrelled by the biggest wave, it's not dancing all night at Love Parade. It's a simplicity charged with electric bewitchery. Each day, each gesture, each loaf of bread you bake with your friend from down the street is replete with fullness and love. It's fucked! It's so simple, yet utterly phenomenal.
I often revisit one moment in particular when I think of Montreal. I was walking home along rue St Denis one night. The cars had ceased in favour of casual foot traffic. People were out. The night was heavy with humidity. I was walking uphill along the west side of the street toward our little stuffy flat. And I spotted her. The coolest fucking chick you had ever seen. She was clothed in some fabulously understated punk rock meets modern chic meets every thing her own yet somehow on trend and culturally relevant. She was painfully gorgeous. She was sitting on her stoop, smoking a cigarette by herself and was emanating effortless cool. I was immediately petrified with intimidation. I even considered crossing the street so I didn’t have to feel like a total dip for avoiding eye contact and then hating myself for it or, alternatively, for making eye contact and receiving a stare down, a half assed smirky smile (You’re so not cool bitch) or total rejection via a vacant acknowledgement followed by a look away.
As I approached closer to this perfect human, I didn’t cross the street, I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. She turned her head toward me and she fucking BEAMED AT ME! Her smile was beautifully warm and inviting and then she goes, “HI! Isn’t is such a beautiful night?” I fell apart. I exploded right back at her and said something whatever like, “YAH! So incredible.” Then she waved “BYE!” at me as I skipped away (internal skip, external saunter).
She wasn’t grotesquely drunk. She wasn’t weird and over enthusiastic. She was fucking genuine. She was honest. She was unafraid. She loved me, and I loved her.
This dream reminded me to strive for that Montreal-nism. To be present with the people we love, to live life with vigorous art, to wear whatever the fuck we want, to drop preconceived notions of what may be cool or trending, to check our egos at the door and focus on what really makes us happy. It's each other, man. The more we embody the electricity of connection the less time we have for bullshit. Go laugh your ass off with your friends and listen to some music and be kind and make something.
And go to Montreal and drink coffee at Café Névé and read a book in Parc La Fontaine and ride bikes after midnight and talk to people and drink up the intoxicating elixir that is our beautiful Place Royale.
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