the last night in montreal was nothing like the first night in nyc.
i overslept -- which is probably one of the most luxurious things i can think of. then i walked to the latin quarter, found a coffee shop and sat in the sun, writing and listening to really good reggae and daydreaming -- another luxurious thing to do. i messed around with my digital camera long enough to figure out how to work the timer and take a self-portrait in the sun.
they were playing stuff like tosh, early marley, mutabaruka, steel pulse. i almost wondered aloud: why don't i listen to reggae anymore? probably because i got permanently burned out working for a reggae music store when i was in college. the jamaicans that owned the place spent most of their time chasing white women by their own admission and blew their profits on nose candy. one night, i went back to the store for something i forgot and found one of them asleep behind the cash register. evidently, the white girl that he lived with and that had recently had his baby threw him out of the house for the unforseeable future and he had no where else to go. the image of him curled up on a filthy blanket, his leather jacket a makeshift pillow, his arm crooked under his head and him looking away from me as he waved me off with one hand in this really nonchalant way, has stayed with me to this very day. reggae? never listen to the stuff. there was a yellowman import that i loved at the time called "walking jewelry store" and for some reason, it plays in my head at full blast whenever i think about that time in my life.
the area was very pedestrian. lots of students (some with their parents), tourists, aging hippies, standard issue working folk and filthy punks of every variety. you know the type: mohawks, body piercings, leather jackets, monkey boots, guitar strumming with dog, guitar strumming without dog, all of them begging for money. frankly, i'm highly suspicious of people asking me for money when they're wearing stuff that i can't afford. like the leather pants this one girl was sporting. quality leather, too. did she really expect me to give her a dollar?
it could have been little five points. it could have been st. mark's place. i felt like the hipster scene was having a worldwide metaphysical hiccup and i was trapped in it. i decided to go for a walk with no predetermined destination in mind. i walked a few blocks and saw a golden lady with a crown of stars set against a picture perfect blue sky day. it was the chapelle notre dame de lourdes. almost immediately, i saw myself wearing such a crown, in silver, singing on stage, just like that. of course, i had to go in. the lady was against a blue backdrop once more, dressed in blue and white, looking quite real.
the crown of stars stayed in my head for the rest of the day: how to make it, who could make it for me if i couldn't pull it off, what it would look like, how i should have more than one, whether or not i should use it for my next photo shoot. maybe bul could make it for me. bul can make anything. he's that kind of guy.
i happened upon a street fair/festival on boulevard st. laurent that went on for so many blocks, it seemed to disappear into the horizon. later, i was told that i was quite lucky -- this event only happened twice a year. the street was closed off and the restaurants extended their walkways, so there were tables everywhere. lots of food on the street to nibble on-the-go as i wandered around, too. i had a delicious near-perfect vegetarian somosa to whet my appetite and fought the urge to buy anything because i just didn't have any more room in my luggage.
as the sun was beginning to set, a woman motioned to me and said something in french. "you look so beautiful," she said in english, "you are so lovely to look at." she was selling wooden bracelets and necklaces. i asked her where to go for a good french meal. she directed me to rue saint dominique, for the nicer places. i made a left and wandered down a picturesque side street, then wandered into a portuguese place. i knew that i wanted salmon and i also wanted to sit and write uninterrupted for as long as i wanted. the host perched me in the corner of the terrace with a cup of tea and a menu. i couldn't remember the last time i had tapas and this place was really quite good. so of course i thought about carol fineman. and for the first time all week, i actually wished that someone else was there. how could i eat this delicious food without her? somehow, i found a way...
i fell into a conversation with three women at the table next to me -- one haitian, one senegalese, one from montreal -- about the city and the africans who live there and what life is like for people of color in general and how different it is in the states. they invited me to sit at their table and offered me a glass of wine, which i thought was very sweet. we talked into the night. very insightful. i had a wonderful time. i wanted to connect with some canadian black people and lo and behold, it happens right before i leave. perfect! i ended up floating out of there well past midnight with tiramisu to go and walked in the opposite direction of the festivites until i came upon a little park with a foundain called the rue square st. louis. it was filled with people -- milling about, making out, playing chess, smoking pot, chatting. the sky was filled with stars. i felt like singing...