On June 9th, after frenzy and some tears, I got into an aluminium bubble, a pressurised, temperature controlled, and oxygen rich bubble high in the sky.
Well I’m on my way to Canada and 3 months research. Unbelievable that it’s finally happening. Yay! Excited and suddenly tired, and oh so thankful for the upgrade. Where is that nice young steward chap with the bubbles?
Sometimes your playlist speaks to you. 10 km in the air mine gave me a WTF moment waking me to a relaxing meditation of rain on the beach – disoriented – it’s totally dark. I’m cocooned in a nice warm pod. Where am I that I can hear rain so clearly? Aren’t I meant to be on a plane? What?
After breakfast Freddy challenged in a new way: have you ever listened to The Show Must Go On as a political statement? “On and on does anybody know what we are living for… inside in the dark I’m aching to be free”. The chimera of individuality, the emperor’s new clothes are a facile lie of an i-world. What community did we give up to be so alone? The business people next to me are “complaining” (but actually bragging) about the corporate life and living out of planes. Oh I’ve changed. The trappings of business class are still very nice, but waking at 10 km to the sound of rain, knowing I’m free, well the incongruity of neo-liberal largesse is pretty stark.
I’m sitting, smiling, in an accented bubble in JFK Airport – this is New York. The accents! They’re huge. The inmates are strange, I need translation. The 1 litre of soda water that comes with a complementary refill. Just sitting watching, listening – we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.
Well after all that stress about work-permits getting into Canada (legally) was no problem at all. The officer was friendly and everything was processed and paid for. Welcome to Canada. Luggage collected. I’m in Canada – let the excitement begin.
I walked out into arrivals in Montreal and saw a thin young Indian guy waiting for me with a Subway – my mentor here at 11.30 pm to make sure I get home safely. “Namaste” I said, and we smiled, surrounded by French and thousands of miles from home we had found a bubble of India.
My apartment is amazing, I’m so happy. It’s bright and airy, tiny, exactly perfect. I woke up at 5.30 this morning – you have to love jetlag it’s the only excuse for being up with your bed made before 6am. But the sun was shining and there was a squirrel running across a telephone wire. It’s all good.
Curious to explore and not having any food, I walked to the closest shop, it’s an incredible supermarket underneath a condominium, and the food! Well at a price plus tax. But they sold me a smoothie and a coffee, lactose free milk, yogurt & cereal, individual salads, lots of edibles to make the apartment yummy.
But ugh I still have an essay to write for uni in Australia.
My apartment is my new bubble, 13 weeks, safe, lockable, mine. I smile. But oh the essay, in this wifi bubble I have to write. I’ve moved on, literally and figuratively. I’m in Montreal, how to write about Australian feminism? Argh.
Sunday lunchtime and I was getting depressed, too much alone, too much essay wrestling, too cold with the wrong clothes. Tired and finding things to worry about. And no, I couldn’t go to the Grand Prix coz I still had a damn paper to write. Frustrated. Ok I was sulking and lonely despite having found a better coffee.
Enough young woman!
Equipped with my map I set out and easily found Jean Talon market. The whole reason I chose to stay in this area. Oh wow – god is back in her heaven, sigh, happy. It was/is everything a market should be, in French, in Quebec. I wandered around stunned. You’ve seen the berries, the amazing, beautiful, sweet, succulent, CHEAP berries. Happy. I also got hot smoked salmon, a small quiche. I don’t know I think I walked around and around in circles with some idiot grin on my face for ages! I have never seen so much cheese, oysters, cheese, cheese, flowers, salmon, sausages, cheese, oh and breads, so many berries, pastries – maple syrup custard portuguese tarts!
Look at those berries!! Did I mention the berries? And so many different people, different kinds of people, walking tall and proud and polite. Oh Australia you think you’re so multicultural, oh sorry, think again.
Proud of myself for walking, managing the metro, and finding a market of rejuvenation, I finished my essay. I am now fully in Canada.
I am lost and alone, confused, frustrated, exhausted from concentrating, over-it, doodling. The bubble of French is impermeable. Inside is knowledge and talking about India. But it’s all in French, so I am firmly put in my place on the outside.
Week one’s summer school on India, totally in French, well it had one high point: I made a new friend. Thank deity this is the only week I’m studying in French, it was soul destroying not to be able to understand. The classes swung between me being determined, concentrating like crazy trying to understand, and me sitting in peeved irritation. I drew a picture of Kali, and Ganesh. Apart from my wonderful new friend who talks to me in English and loves study, the next best thing was access to more berries. Amazing, incredible berries. Oh and my increasing proficiency on the metro. I’ve been getting off at Jean Talon to get dinner each evening, I love it. Well except that every time I exit a metro station I’m so disoriented I inevitably end up walking in totally the wrong direction. Even when I walk the opposite direction to where I think I should go, I go the wrong way. Master my navigational underwear karma is inside out and upside down.
I continue to form the regular routines of living and have now found the local laundromat and also a dry cleaners. The laundromat threw me back 25 years to living at Monash Uni flats – carrying your clothes stuffed in a bag, same type of machine, finding coins, forgetting detergent, going for coffee while it drowns and tears your clothes. Everything changes, nothing’s changed.
The salads from the market are made in store and continue to be excellent. I’m eating a lot of salmon! And of course berries. The ladies in my coffee shop are beginning to know me.
And then you find your mob, your people, and your bubble dissolves into theirs, you speak the same inner language, you connect, and somehow the other bubbles don’t matter so much anymore.
Author: Wendy's Out of Station
I write as a way of processing and reflecting on experience, and as a way of sharing that experience. When I travel I used to write email journals back to friends, family, anyone who’d read and risk immersing themselves in my reality for a while: writing for them was a way of writing for me. Borrowing from Graham Greene in a flip of Travels with my Aunt, I imagined writing letters to my nieces, as their travelling aunt. Crafting the sentences became a way of extruding the experience, giving it birth, drawing its meaning from my soul, nurturing it into something tangible with a life of its own. The aim of my blog is to open the world to my thought-children, to let them out of the safety of my friends and family and let them experience the world. And in the process I get the honour of taking a larger group with me when I’m wandering around India and beyond, or just reflecting on parallel truths, thinking thoughts that take me to new places new beginnings. Please journey with me View all posts by Wendy's Out of Station