Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~ Marcel Proust
Both my computer and I have been out of commission for this past week. Although it was inconvenient for most of the part, it gave me time to reflect on some of the things that I will truly miss about Montreal.
I’ve spent my entire life moving around from one city to another, from one country to another and if there’s one thing that I’ve learnt, it is that real genuine friends are few and far between. I’m not talking about acquaintances; I’m speaking of people that you connect to on a cellular level. I’ve had the great fortune to meet at least five such people here. Funnily enough, the common thread has been language.
When I came to Montreal I couldn’t speak French. Sure, I was taught some basic stuff in school, like how to conjugate a verb, but I never spoke it. For the first year here I struggled to learn. I took some classes and I worked in a store so I could really get into it. And on that journey I answered an ad to participate in a language exchange; French for English. I thought, “How perfect!”. My first partner benefited from this exchange. He spoke very well while I could barely put a sentence together. Um, let’s just say his resume got translated.
I thought that I’d approach my second attempt differently. Maybe I would feel more comfortable and, or, confident if the exchange was with a woman. I read her ad and thought it was perfect. She claimed her accent was terrible and that although she’d studied English in the past she really needed to practice. I thought, “Great, we’re on par. I suck and she could really use my help”.
When we finally met, I discovered that she lied!!!! She was practically bilingual and I came to the quick realization that I had a lot of work to do. I didn’t speak well. Our meetings were a comedy of errors. We always chose cafes where the cappuccino makers were too loud, the service was terrible or the hot chocolate didn’t meet our standards (our standards are high).
At one point we thought we could read aloud; you know, to help each other out with our pronunciation. Her accent, by the way, was not as terrible as she claimed (another lie). I chose Harry Potter because I read all the books in English and I thought I could follow the story better. This was a wise choice! I think she chose Truman Capote. Whoever it was, it was far too literary. So the following week she brought in a book of Candace Bushnell, of the “Sex and the City” fame. Every time she read “penis” out loud the cappuccino maker died down and poor Cécile was practically yelling penis to all the patrons. I, of course, laughed until I had tears streaming down my cheeks.
I guess she was a sucker for punishment because she came back the following week and that was the beginning of a remarkably funny, sarcastic, chocolate induced friendship. We’ll be celebrating our belated second anniversary next week.
Stay tuned for friend number two.