Montreal, 2012. Right after we were married. I took a train through the countryside of Ontario after a long work trip to meet Mike in Montreal. It all felt so foreign, so surreal. Just in arms-length of New York City.
Our little Airbnb tucked away on a cobblestone alley, with the veranda overlooking a frontstreet parade route. Where within the first hours, we sat – sipping a bottle of cool Chablis – and wondered what the noise was all about. What the banging of pots and pans and marchers were yelling about all in French. We deciphered that it was student protests, eleve.
We thought, oh how cute. They protest with kitchenware up here north of the border. The “casserole protests” as they would come to be called. As we dug in more, we learned the protests were in response to rate hikes for post-secondary education, tuition to increase by $325 annually for five years. Where they pay less than $3k a year.
Mike and I wanted to cue the violins.
But everyone is dealing with something, we said. No use comparing one’s pain to the next, as we were riding high together – the in between time of health and sickness.
Eating our way through Montreal – bagels and baguettes, smoked meats and crème fraiche, Quebecoise fromage and poutine, drinking La fin du monde and farmhouse saisons. Sitting around the plazas and water fountains, watching children play in the squares, the public using the public spaces to be together, street musicians and performance art, the timing of the Pride or Fierte week, multiculturalism in the air, all felt like we were meant to be here. The spring before a long winter.