Sometimes, I am disoriented.
I walked down St Hubert earlier, with Adam, the biting cold turning our faces red. My scarf was freezing to my upper lip as I breathed; my glasses kept fogging with a thin layer of ice as condensation from my exhalations froze and thawed, froze and thawed. But dizzily, I thought I was in Northbridge. My mind flashed, "We'll pass Gelare up here on the right, and then I can...no, wait..."
Stepping into the metro the other day, I waited for the recorded voice message to say "Station Ploenchit" before realizing I wasn't in Bangkok. I woke up thinking about going to yoga class and, before I opened my eyes, found myself picturing Wild Rose's courtyard, pulling down the ramp on my no-speed bicycle and chaining it to the bamboo fence. I fell asleep a few nights ago wondering why I couldn't hear the Armadale train zipping past every few minutes, and caught myself thinking They must be working on the tracks again.
Part of it is reading "The Slap", a book written by a Greek-Australian that is so vivid in its descriptions of barbecue, driving around, the slang, the attitude, that I find myself shocked when I go outside and encounter the frozen unfamiliar landscape of Canada. I think it's just so different to me, given that I haven't lived here in so very long, that my mind is compensating by throwing up all these other places I've lived and loved, in an effort to make Montreal familiar.
As I was walking towards Mont Royal earlier this evening, a flat of thirty local eggs from Jean Talon market wrapped in newspaper and rattling safely in my backpack, a man stopped me. "Excusez moi," he said, "ou est la station de metro?" Where's the metro station?
I pointed ahead of us. "C'est juste la-bas," I said. It's right over there.
At least I know where I am some of the time.