Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Travel of a different sort

In the past more-than-a-year, I have moved a lot...mostly away from things. It reminds me of a conversation I had with J, at the end of our marriage, when he shouted at me that he thought I was always running away from things -- although I think he was wrong, since most of my life has been spent moving TOWARDS things.

I moved away from Montreal, and my concept of home here. When I lived here in 2012-2014, I was pretty broke and pretty flexible. I had a cheap apartment that was in relatively good repair and close to two metro lines, a great housemate, and the freedom to travel whenever I could afford it. Turns out, when your rent is only $350 a month, you can go a lot more places than if your rent is more than that.

So I left Montreal and I was sad about it, especially because Vancouver seemed so...heartless. Not in a cold way, although it did remind us of the Seattle Freeze, but in that it seemed to have no central pulsing soul. There were some mountains (beautiful!) and some ocean (also beautiful!) and we went for long walks down by the water and talked about how it would be nice to have some more friends someday, and about Erik's work and the way it seemed to have turned sour. It turned so sour that we had to leave, again -- we left and went back to Montreal, and I learned you can't go home again.

Montreal between 2012 and 2014 was the closest I came to feeling like I had identified a home...but coming back to it, I am a different person, and it is no longer my home. Montreal is a great place to live when you're broke...but as a more adult person, in need of an adult apartment (with, you know, functional wiring and no holes in the walls where babies could stick things and also stairs that are not dangerous or precipitous and also no mold or floor tiles coming up or broken glass or a doorknob that only works by pulling a string from the upstairs hallway or walls that go all the way to the ceiling or no enormous slant to the floors or foundational cracks in the walls) in a relatively nice area, and earning an actual adult income? Montreal SUCKS. It is a pile of expensive bureaucracy. We have been deemed to be making a ton of money, so of course we pay large sums of it back to Quebec in taxes. We get some subsidies for childcare and so on...which are then taxed. Basically just...expensive, difficult, frustrating. This is not to mention the language politics constantly infringing on our lives (for example, you would think that, when English is 50% of the official languages of the country wherein your cafe is located, and the cafe is also located inside a building rented entirely by a company whose official language is English, taking a stand against the English language by refusing to allow the employees of your cafe to speak it to their customers might be ridiculous).

So Montreal isn't really home anymore. It's okay. But E feels intensely uncomfortable here and doesn't want to stay -- and even if he did, the way Quebec politics are set up for permanent residency, we can't stay, because he doesn't speak enough French. So we have to leave Quebec sometime in the next few years anyway. No sense getting too settled, since this can't be our home. In some ways, I wondered why I bothered to paint the walls of our house, since we'd probably be leaving anyway? But I hear this is what makes one more adult, and honestly, a more effective traveler: nesting wherever you are, making home from pieces, again and again.

I also found myself moving so far away from my idea of who I was, this year -- almost-year, as baby is now almost 9.5 months old. I thought of myself as an activist, an outgoing friendly person who liked to talk to people, someone who is creative and crafty, enjoys going to interesting events. Now, I find myself almost a recluse -- even when I can manage to go out to something, I feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable, and if the baby is there, my attention revolves around her needs. If the baby isn't there, I sometimes don't know what to do with myself. I don't do much activism right now...I don't do many crafts. Sometimes I think it's just sleep deprivation interfering with my ability to connect with my interests, and sometimes I think maybe it is some kind of postpartum depression and sometimes I think no, this is just what this is like for now. This is probably temporary, like all things with children. One day they sleep, the next day, not. One day I have no interests, and the next day, I once again find myself bookbinding, writing, sewing, traveling the 45 minutes by metro to work in the art hive.

I also am redefining my yoga practice, which dropped off precipitously in the last few months of my pregnancy and has really never recovered. For years I had a regular daily yoga practice, and then I got too large to enjoy it and so I stopped. And then for the first few months after baby was born, the idea of doing anything other than watching TV on the couch underneath this tiny helpless person was anathema. And then I found myself uncertain, tentative -- the way I feel about talking to people: it seems like a good idea to do, but then when I actually do it, I don't find the joy in it that I used to.

I think I need to ground myself into regular practices: find daily routines, make a point of making something, doing something, stretching my body, every day. Put the baby on my back and go, go, go...to somewhere. To myself, maybe, wherever that may be.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Can I recommend Nova Scotia, where you can buy yourself a nice big ole farm house and land for <$100,00. :)

P.s. I can't figure out how not to make this comment anonymous. :) Jason