(james benedict brown) on the road

“What are you guys doing?”

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 29 July, 2006

A few hours ago, I was woken from my slumber by the sound of someone shouting the above. The clarity of the call seemed to make me think he was standing on one of the roofs adjacent to my new bedroom, perhaps on the balcony above. With the move to a new apartment comes the adaptation to the new sounds of my surroundings. I’ve spent the last ten months in a haven of tranquility, in a room that down onto a first floor courtyard. I’m now hearing a lot more traffic noise, and the distant sound of a night club pumping house music into the air. It’s not a bad thing at all: I can sleep through these sounds; in fact they are already beginning to wash over me and calm me. Falling asleep in a big city like Montréal is a comfortable experience. As you slip into your slumber, you are reminded that outside the world continues to spin, and that if you need something to eat at three in the morning, there are plenty of places near-by.

I lay in bed for a while wondering what the possible stimulus could be for the shout that woke me up. A friendly hello from a man who’s looked up the balcony of a friend’s apartment, and seen an early morning party still going on? Or maybe an agrier responce to two ‘yoofs’ attacking the paintwork of a car with some keys? Probably not… this is not Belfast.

My new room is opens onto a fire escape that leads down to an overgrown back yard. On the opposite side of the house, the apartment has the most essential of Montréal real estate features: a wide balcony that faces the street, and which is leaning out from the building just enough to appear safe but feel slightly unnerving. I’m sitting here, having made an early morning sortie to the Jean-Talon market. A big bowl of fresh fruit salad featuring strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (all Québec grown) is now in the fridge, and I’m tapping away watching the traffic go past. Traffic signals about two hundred metres south of here regulate the one way traffic: periods of acceleration en masse are intersperced with periods of blissful silence, when the engine sounds recede, and I can here the wind rustling the trees that are dotted along the pavements. A hodge-podge of different shops, offices and apartments (all with their blinds and curtains still closed) reflects the sunshine back towards me.

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