I went from Québec City to Montréal to New York by bus in the course of a day.
Before I realised, I was facing the giant “United States of America” sign at the border. I remember seeing this sign for the first time a couple of years ago on the same journey. Back then, I was travelling on an overnight bus and I suddenly woke up in the dark. The colossal sign was standing above me like a huge monster. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The mythical letters were shining under the moonlight and captivated my imagination, between dream and nightmare.
As soon as you pass the border, it feels different. Canada and the US are neighbours but so distinct.
At sunset, we stopped in a random petrol station, which is the quintessence of the deep America road trip culture. I have had a fascination for American gas stations since my teenage and “Thelma & Louise”. I never thought back then that I would hit the American road so much.
Seating behind me on the bus, there was a young guy crying. I could hear him sob and I was checking his reflection in the window. I felt like showing him some compassion. But I finally didn’t.
I arrived at Port Authority Station in Manhattan at 1.30 am. I walked out and was brutally projected in the New York electricity again, right at the heart of Times Square. The neons were so bright that it took me a second to remember if it was night or day. These were my last instants in Manhattan. But I had no time for nostalgia, farewells or endless considerations, because I had only a few hours ahead before catching the plane.
Trains were disrupted so my middle of the night journey back to Brooklyn was chaotic. It took me 2 trains, a shuttle and a cab to finally reach the house 2 hours later. α and α² were there, awake. It was hard to hierarchise my actions because I had 4 hours to do everything : fill them in about my Québec pilgrim and my confused emotions, pack all my shit, hear their updates about the flatmate hunting situation, and potentially sleep.
I managed to close my suitcase out of miracle (how do I do it every time? How can so many shoes fit in one bag? That’s my biggest talent : closing the zipper.)
α² went to bed and hugged me good bye. He said: “See you soon anyway. You belong here.” It touched me to the core because then, it means that my sense of belonging there is not only in my head. It is a scientific fact. I didn’t show I was moved though and simply replied : “I know. So, worst case scenario, you marry me, right?”
I went to bed next to α at 4am, a cab picked me up 3 hours later. I haven’t counted how many hours of sleep behind I am because of New York.
The taxi driver asked me where I was from. I said: “I am French, but my life goal is to move here.” He said that he would marry me. See! Even taxi drivers are on my side.
It didn’t feel like I was leaving anyway. It is just a temporary formality. My life will be on hold till I live in my city for good.
I almost lost my flight because I was waiting at the wrong gate. 15 minutes before departure, an announcement said: “Mr X, Y, Z and… Miss Σ (my first name) are asked to go immediately to gate 11.” Hahaha. Not that I didn’t try everything to stay.
At 10.45am, I finally took off to Toronto for the ultimate stage of my North American tour.