Just returned from the first real Vacation Vacation I have had in a while: Montreal with my two dearest high school friends Alison and Katherine. I've had depressing "days off" when various jobs don't work out, and hibernation periods of a few days after various life stages end and other ones are about to begin, but due to comps and work and Chamber Singers tour and stuff, I haven't had a Vacation Vacation since probably .... just before Senior year to DC. I guess that's all the vacation normal people get anyway. In any case, this weekend was just what I needed in a lot of ways. Montreal is a gorgeous city, magically devoid of chains, but still with everyone one needs in one place. I will use ABCs rather than go into all the gory details:
A: Alison! Lives in Montreal in a tragically cool neighborhood that we could come visit. :)
B: Babka, chocolate. Our snack upon arriving. A delicious and auspicious beginning. Also bagels and Business Breakfast.
C: Comic book people. I didn't know much about the Type, but it is a Type apparently just like Drama People or Voice People. They are uniformally nice, under 150 pounds, and use phrases like "HOLY SMOKES!" in everyday conversation.
D: Drawn & Quarterly, one of the most famous graphic novel publishing companies in the world, where Alison interns!
E: English. The language most waitstaff defer to when they hear our first non-deftly handled R sound.
F: Franglais. I HAVE DECIDED I AM A FRANGLAIS MASTER!! I know just enough French to mix it with my English in a manner which sounds cavalier and casual enough that I sound like I am bilingual and just really lazy.
G: Georgia, Vermont. The charming locale in which I left my cell phone for a half hour at a rest stop and recovered it from a messianic maitenance woman.
H: Housing. Alison's apartment is really nice and homey. It reminds me of the urban dwellings of my cousins in DC. It's basically the top floor of a brownstone, the kind of thing with really ornate glass doors and a raised tub shower.
I: Ici ca va. Alison said this to the cabbie once, in a slightly innapropriate yet effective use of French. It became one of those bizarre private jokes all weekend.
J: Jesus. Alison's 35 year old roommates had a religious party a few years ago when David, one of the two roommates, turned 32, "The age of Jesus". There are last supper mock-up photos in the bathroom.
K: Katherine! I fell out of contact with Katherine this past summer, and I am so glad we are back to being good friends. She was one of my first real friends when I was new and awkward in 6th grade, and I think, after hearing my mother's tales of her recent High School clique reunion in New Mexico, that we'll be friends for a long time.
L: Long walks. Alison walks just about everywhere, including 45 minutes to work, so we joined her in that this weekend, and it was really nice to not feel like a bump in front of a computer. It was windy and great outside.
M: Mont-Royal. The mountain up which we hiked on Saturday to get to the very top of Montreal and look down over the view while my feet tingled in subdued fear.
N: Nonna. Italian for grandmother, and part of the name of the restaurant in which we ate on Saturday night. 30 bucks for a prix fixe menu, but not a rip-off at all. We even got cookies!
O: O stands for West when you've crossed the Border, which turned out that it was good to realize.
P: Pendleton. Megan Pendleton, another high school friend, teaches elementary school art now in Vermont and drove up to visit as well. It was good and strange to see her. She is doing what she has always wanted to do with her life since I have known her, and she's happy. I wonder if it's a gene.
Q: Quebec. I don't know much about the Quebecois seperatist movement, but I am going to do some reading about it because it interests me. The language laws, which dictate that all signage must be in French, and almost everyone's dual fluency (in Montreal that is) really strikes one in this place stuck between Vermont and the rest of Canada, both English-speaking countries to be sure. I wonder what it must feel like to know that the language that you identify with both politcally and personally is hugely in the minority, mostly by choice.
R: Roommates. Alisons' 35 year old roomates, Manuel and David, are awesome. David is a computer programmer and Manuel is a chef. They are best friends and live in this sweet little apartment, cook brunch together. It's a definite case of hetero guy love and looks to be a lovely existence. They also posses Samurai swords. They watch the Discovery Channel and the Food Network and yell things at the TV such as "THEES FEESH EES NOT SEXYYYYY!!"
S: Selling drugs. As we were waiting for Megan to come meet us at the botton of Mont-Royal, we were cavalierly approached by a really enterprising Narcotics Marketing Professional who asked, "How are you? Do you need something extra to enjoy this beautiful day? Drugs?" Straightforward and direct.
T: Thai star. Home of the world's worst and most empty thai food restaurant in rural Vermont in off-ski season. Katherine's noodles tasted like they were covered in ketchup and death. We saw a lot of Rural Rutland after my brilliant idea, on the way home that we attempt to access the Berkshires from the butt of rural Vermont. If you ever need to know how to get back to a major highway from the literal middle of nowhere in Vermont, just ask me.
U: Unbelievable pie!! I know it's cheating to use an adjective. But I have to write about the pie somewhere. Katherine bought a pie from this bakery in Somerville: Apple/pear with walnut stresel ..... add vanilla ice cream and holy crap.
V: Vermont. I am serious, I know everything about this frigging state now.
W: Water. I remembered that the only person that likes water quite as much as me is Katherine, bonding over our mutual love was refreshing (haha, bad pun).
X: X-pensive classical music Used. That's OK, I bought it anyway because it was one of those charming used CD and book stores and they had Lamenta della ninfa by my friend Claudio M.
Y: Youth. We did a lot of talking about high school and the way we used to be and the things we used to do. When you're around a lot of people from that time in your life it's really easy to remember what you thought your life would be like by the time you were your current age. It led to a little reflection on what it means to actually consider myself an adult now. I think I hardly knew MYSELF five years ago, and only what I WANTED. Which is different.
Z: After last weekend, I think it's safe and convenient to say that I'm zealous to go back. :)