On The Road

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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.

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Montréal Amazing Chicks

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I arrived in Montréal on a Monday morning at 7.20, after a night on the Greyhound bus from the Big Apple.

I walked a few steps in the central bus station and all of a sudden, after letting go of New York and its restless excitement, I felt unable to move or even stand. I almost collapsed and slept for a couple of hours on a public bench like a homeless. I was opening my eyes once in a while and I could feel the rhythm of people’s feet, their coming and going, sensing the different heartbeat of the city. Most of them were rushing to start their week of work, while I was starting my vacation in the most peculiar manner.

After my power nap, I went to the bathroom of the station to try to look like something. Next to me at the sink, washing her hands, was a girl that I met 13 years ago when I had just moved to Québec City. I recognised her right away, although our encounter was brief at the time. I even remembered her name. I am psycho with names and faces. That’s how I get to randomly come across so many people I know throughout the world. It is only that I have a borderline paranormal memory for faces. She didn’t recognise me, and I didn’t try to talk to her. I just thought that my Québec time had kicked off and that I had received a warm welcome sign from the francophone metropolis.

At 11, my dear old friend μπ picked me up from the subway on the south bank and greeted me with a warm: “ça c’est de la pelure de clown!” (“what a clown coat!”) at the sight of my rainbow fur coat. It sounds way funnier in the original version though. Canadian French doesn’t translate. 

μπ is one of my most spectacular and bubbly friends. She should be featured in the Quebecer version of “Sex & The City” because she has the best boy stories ever. She often puts herself in improbable love situations, which she feels sorry for, but as we catch up every 2 years at the best, she always has a shit ton of funky stories to tell me. She is very theatrical so it is like going to a stand up comedy show you’ve been looking forward to. As I am not the last one for good stories either, we had to drink an equally shit ton of Amaretto Sours to catch up about our mutual drama since 2012. The day after, we literally spent all day in watching the last winter snow flakes fall lazily, getting food delivered and drinking booze. We also pronounced a magic formula that her fortune-teller gave her in order to get what we want from life. We had to write it down on a paper, repeat it 3 times and burn it from the top left corner. She asked to be happily coupled, I asked to be working in New York in this outstanding job I applied for. Oh my God! This thing is so going to work. 

We went for drinks and poutine with μC and her girlfriend, a power couple who inspired the shit out of me. μC is a schoolteacher/comedian/stand up comedy girl who recently came out to her dad on stage. She used to date a French Femen activist but she paid her flight back to France just to get rid of her. She is now happy with a super cute girl who is fighting cancer and has the intention to blog about it to share her experience. Go Girls! I think my biggest assets in life are none of my relative qualities, but are the people I know. 

On Wednesday, I brunched with another amazing woman, CC. We met in 2001 when we were both living with nuns in a convent of Québec City (no kidding. I lived with the nuns for 2 years in a Catholic residence. I got my first lez experience between those walls. Wonderful memories.) CC is a bisexual writer, traveler, artist, questioning human being who gets inspired by queer women artists and eventually sees herself in some kind of love/creative relationship with a girl. I went with her to the job centre where she had an appointment because she wants to become a self-employed digital story-telling workshops giver. She told me that her sister is now her brother cause he is transitioning from female to male and she actively supports him. I was super interested by his story, because I hang out so much with queers and creatures but strangely enough, I am not close with any trans people, which is a big miss.

CC came with a surprise for me. At the time when we were living with the nuns, I was studying contemporary dance and she was studying fine arts in a building called La Fabrique – a former corset factory. She once dragged me to a fine arts students party and I was amazed by the freedom and relax style of the people, coming from a world where we were told off if we didn’t wear pink tights and uptight hairstyles. Everyone was wearing Birkenstock shoes with winter socks inside them. CC introduced me to a very tall girl called V., who was passably drunk. Tall girl looked at me from up there and said: “Good eveninglittle thing!” Before I understood anything, she was petting my hair and gave me a kiss on the top of my head. I was stunned for a second and then cracked up and later on told this anecdote to everyone as a very cult moment of my life. Well, V. came over to the café the other day, and it was the first time we met again after our unforgettable introduction. She hadn’t changed much. She told me: “I think of you often.” I replied: “Same here. You pop up in my head very unexpectedly.” What an incongruous reunion.

All those beautiful and fabulous Montréal ladies made me laugh and made my heart swing with joy, curiosity, excitement, admiration. I love them all dearly.

By the way. The skull shirt from my blog cover picture died tonight. It is sitting lifeless in my bin. It followed a lot of my adventures since 2007 and had an AWESOME life. Like me.