Like a modern migrant I wanted to see Canada because I read, and I have been told, that is a nice place to live. A better place than here. Montreal, some say, is the most European city of the new continent. I don’t know: what does European mean?
I am an Italian living in UK with a French past and a (Franco-) German Orso, and still I could not say what is “European”. I know I am, but it’s a feeling more than anything else.
In Montreal people start a sentence in one language et la terminent dans une autre. This struck me, not because I was surprised, but because I thought it was a privilege reserved to multicultural families. To us.
To me, mixing languages means being always able to look for the exact word, to go as closest as you can to the meaning you want. Maybe it’s just me but I think we can understand each other better if we can speak more than one language. If you bring yours, and I’ll bring mine, like dishes at a dinner party.
Secondly, Montreal seems to believe its own stories. Like I do. The Mont-Royal, where the first French colons planted their cross (now a Tour Eiffel like cross which disappointed me a bit me and Lucy) it’s hill that dominates the city. But they never call it a hill. It’s la Montagne, the mountain, even if it takes half an hour to get on top.
Again, the power is in the name, in calling things what we want them to be, and by the power of the words, they are.
Let’s say it is a mountain. Let’s say we are explorers. Let’s say you’ll never leave. Let’s say I will make it.
Of course, you need to see the majestic cathedral, visit the immense cemetery (my favourite travel plan is city highlights- food-cemetery-market-galleries-shopping), experience the underground city, do some restaurant hopping and admire the city covered in snow. But I can tell you about later on.
I walked, eat many sorts of food, talk and talk, smelled the snow, found a talented hairdresser: Montreal felt a little bit like home, a home I have never been before.