Advance Nostalgia

David Skates at
Place d'Youville
QUÉBEC, Canada
March 10, 2013

Time in this phase of my life is winding down. Maybe that's a weird thing to say as this past week I just began another term of study--the bonus French writing course--at Université Laval. But, I'm already wistful realizing that my time living here in Québec City will come to an end this summer--if not sometime all the sooner.

Why all the advance nostalgia? It's on account of good news that I found out just a few days ago: I've been accepted into a program of graduate study at McGill University! This will be the perfect direction to integrate everything of my past, present, and future life. Come autumn, I'll begin a program at McGill's Institute of Islamic Studies. What an ideal place to synthesize everything: my years living throughout the Muslim World, the program of francisation I've just finished, and my future residence here in Canada. This is huge news; I'm beside myself with the possibilities.

Reverting back into present tense: my daily routine now starts with a writing course every morning. The classmates I began learning French with one year ago have fallen into the minority. The bonus writing course forked us into two levels. I was happy to make the cut into the upper class. However, our division is literal as well as figurative: former classmates at the lower level meet downstairs on ground floor 0 while our class is up atop the building on the 7th storey--a floor inaccessible even by elevator. Good exercise for both my writing and my lungs.

This separation leaves only four of us from the original crew: three of the Colombians and me. A couple of the newer Colombian classmates and one of the Ukranians who joined in latter terms make our UL crew eight: but we're outnumbered by students who went through their francization at nearby community college CÉGEP Ste-Foy.

Our new instructor, Madame B., is exotic and not just because she's isn't Québecoise. She hails from the isle of Réunion, a tiny speck in the Indian Ocean to which the nearest big thing is Madagascar. It's fun to have the shared perspective of a fellow immigrant to this country who can call out quirks unique to Québec.

In addition to good news with present and future studies everything else is going well. I suppose it is a shame that my present enrollment status no longer allows me access to the swimming pool at PEPS, the university library, nor the campus wi-fi. But, I've found replacements: I'm eking out more ice skating while the season winds down and checking books out on-line with my new status affiliated with McGill.

Anagrams with Ex-sub
Life goes on well in other ways. Though I've been deliberately slow in becoming close with anybody here, former sub Annie and I have seen quite a lot of each other, several times already over this past week since my return to Québec City. We might meet over table games at some café, dinner chez elle with her grown children (is that an oxymoron?), or even together out on the ice rink which, for some reason, is a venue I've been frequenting far more often than she has in recent months. Too bad that good friendships with people throughout Québec City came later than sooner, but I suppose that wouldn't have affected my decision to apply to McGill.

So, life goes well. There's a lot ahead of me in upcoming months: the logistics of quitting Québec City to make the move to Montréal, saying farewell to classmates and teachers who have become dear to me, leaving a city and routine I've become fond of, not to mention embarking on a whole new life. But, I know all that will come to pass. Right now, I'm most conflicted between two happy possibilities. Where should I be upon the end of our writing course when it finishes up at the end of April? Should I stay on here to not spread myself too thin and move easily to Montréal sometime this summer? Or, should I make a return journey to Pakistan and Xinjiang for some months to re-connect with the languages and cultures that will become the focus of my studies over the immediate years to come?

Not a bad place to be: having too many attractive options and directions where to next take my life.