This is an incredibly difficult moment for me. One that has been coming for a long time and yet I have denied right up to the end. I have hinted at it regularly over the past few months, but I don’t think I have ever said it outright. Because of that, for some of you this will come as a surprise.
I’m moving to San Francisco, no flowers in the hair.
Now I have said that I’m only moving for the fall/winter, six months or so. That’s my way of sitting on the fence, when the reality of the matter is that its probably for longer than that. Potentially much longer. I like the idea of coming back to Montreal in the spring, watching the last whisps of snow fade into the earth and be replaced by green and every colour of flower. I like the idea of returning to old friends, biking along the canal and wild summer festivals that swallow you up so that you feel like your whole life is just one big party. I freaking love this city and its people and I will return often, but…
Montreal was never intended to be a long term thing. I came here thinking I’d go to school and get another degree (ha ha ha!), four or five years and I’d be off again to experience and explore another magical city like Paris, New York or San Francisco. Yes San Francisco was already on the list of places to live and experience, but that was 2007, this is 2011. Since then I’ve fallen in love, clumsily and unexpectedly with Montreal. What was only ever meant to be a fling turned into something deep and true. She has not always been kind to me, but she was also the first city to truly accept me for who I am and allow me to do the things that needed to be done. First love always leaves an indelible mark.
San Francisco by contrast is something entirely new, at times beautiful, at others terribly intimidating. We flirted a lot, but I have no idea what a more serious relationship with this city will be like. Of course I had no idea what was going to happen with Montreal either. One thing is for sure, both are cities full of passionate people and both are just a little bit different from the North American mainstream.
Its also significant to talk about the real human love that brings me there (as though it were possible to escape that despite the city/love metaphor). Though I love Montreal, its my love of Stella and her love for me that really sustains and inspires me these days. I spend much of my time here wishing that either she was here or that I was there. My favourite moments are by her side and the place where that happens doesn’t really make that much difference. It could be stranded in the Calgary Airport, wandering the night time desert or just sitting at a greasy spoon. How lucky I am then that the place where she’s to be found most often is also one of the most dynamic, vibrant and progressive cities in North America.
While I move for love, I also move for new opportunities. The chance to grow closer to the man I’ve always wanted to be. To try out new career options, new modes of living and organizing and contributing. New forms of self-expression and self-understanding. San Francisco is a city dedicated to newness and the future and I feel like there is a place for me there. A place where perhaps I can do a lot of good.
More than the festivals and the parcs and the depanneurs I’m going to miss the people. Over the past year I’ve been a bit more distant, at least part of the reason for that was the foreknowledge that this day was coming. Even so its no easier to say goodbye, perhaps its worse. Each one of you have been a special and important part of my past four years here in one way or another. Some of us have worked on big projects together, some of us have shared deep and intimate moments, I think all of us have had at one time or another a great deal of fun. You’ve all touched me, shown me different ways of doing things, different ways of seeing the world. Much of what I’ve learned and accomplished over these years would have been impossible without you, and I thank you for that.
I have no doubt that there will be more projects, more opportunities for fun and connection between us in the future. They will just be more infrequent is all. Even if I’m leaving Montreal it doesn’t mean that I’m not still a Montrealler. This city has forever imprinted itself on how I live and how I see the world and that means that I have to come back. Nuit Blanche, taBURNak! or Tam Tams, I’ll be here again from time to time. Nobody can tell what the future holds, but I do know that my affection for this place and the people here will never leave me.
So for this last month that I’m here, I want to enjoy it. I want to soak in as much of Montreal as I can. To bring the spirit of this city with me wherever I go. Je suis Montrealais toujours. J’apporte l’esprit de la ville avec moi dans tout la monde. Parti, mais jamais absent. Merci, et a bientot.