(james benedict brown) on the road

Breaking up is hard to do

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 10 September, 2006

For the last time, I am writing to you from the Montréal Plateau apartment in which I have lived for most of the last year. Tomorrow afternoon, I will close the front door behind me, and leave Montréal. This is as final as it gets. It is, unsurprisingly, a very sad time for me.

I have had the great priviledge to have made many very good friends this year. But instead of saying goodbye to all of them in the same breath as saying goodbye to this city, one by one they have slipped away before my departure. One has returned to Europe several months ago. One has departed for a new life in New York City. This afternoon, one more (very) important friend departed ahead of my final hours. She left in the back of a rented truck, perched on some furniture that she was moving to Québec City. We said goodbye, hugged, and she was gone. I watched the van pull away, but couldn’t even wave because she was buried under a mountain of cargo in the back of the truck.

This evening, I said goodbye to perhaps my most important friend in Montréal – the one who arrived at the same time as me, and who has been going through the experiences that are closest to mine right now. Someone who can eat poutine, drink beer and play pool at roughly my pace and/or skill. We embraced, wished other well, and said farewell on the dark corner of Resther and Gilford. It was only as I turned the corner and walked further away did I begn to feel the emotions that I have been avoiding for the last few weeks. As I walked home in the early hours of Sunday morning, I looked up through the branches of the trees at the moonlit sky, motionless above me. No matter how much changes, some things always stay the same.

These are the people who have made my life in Montréal what it is (or what it soon will have been). I would have liked to have had one single farewell, with everyone around me in one of the perfectly informal social occasions that have defined this year. But instead, I have had to say goodbye to each of them separately. One by one, we have parted company. The whole process has taken so long, and yet each farewell comes quickly and is over in seconds. I have the worst of both worlds: a long, elongated departure, and many individual farewells that do not sink in until it’s too late. I am sad not because this year was so short, but because I can only remember the missed opportunities and the regrets. I had such a great time, but I can only recall the moments when I decided not to participate, go out or join in.

To my Montréal friends and acquaintances, I already miss you all so very much, and I wish we could have done more together during this year. But it’s time to go.

The blog will continue some time later this week.

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One Response

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  1. ulli said, on 11 September, 2006 at 07:05

    dear james,

    now that i’ve read your last post i’m very sad too! who is your friend who departed on a truck to quebec city?? will that have been melisse???? i haven’t heard of her for a while and it definitely wouldn’t surprise me. but didn’t she like montreal so much? well, maybe it’s not her after all.

    i also miss this past year but i probably have enough distance by now that i can look forward and enjoy what is yet to come. i actually can’t wait.


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