Crosstown Moves III

Russian Buckwheat
October 31, 2014

All the possessions I have in this city still fit handily into the trunk of a small car. Professor Gwen, who I enlisted to help transport my things across town in her sedan, commented on how even that tidy amount is far, far more than what I carried with me when I first arrived into Montréal.

Three years ago when I stepped off the train from New York and into Gare Centrale Gwen met me at the station. Seeing my small knapsack and laptop tote bag she asked me where the rest of my luggage was. But, coming straight from several weeks on the road in Central America I didn't have anything more than what I was holding in my hands.

"You're moving to a new country and that's all you're bringing with you!", Gwen said increduously.

Though I hadn't thought about it until she called attention to the fact traveling so light did somehow feel like an accomplishment. Which means that with this move--even though I need only one run of a passenger car to move house--it's conversely disappointing to recognize how my life is no longer so spartan, to realize that I can no longer transport everything I need for daily life entirely on my person.

The apartment I've moved to in Notre Dame de Grâce (NDG) is not so far from where Professor Gwen herself lives. It's much more of a quiet area than the studio off of Montréal's Latin Quarter that I just moved out of. Though there is a metro station three minutes away on foot and a nice strip of shops and cafes a bit further down the road my immediate neighborhood is mostly residential. It's entirely old, brick construction forming into long blocks of houses. Many homes in the neighborhood still bear 3-digit street numbers crafted from stained glass above the front door--despite that the numbering scheme for addresses long ago changed to four digits with no relation to the original addresses.

My ride to campus is now about twice as long as what it used to take me but I can still make it in from house to class in under half an hour. This morning was my first time figuring out the new commute. The route I took through Westmount was far hillier than what I think I'll want to make a regular habit of. I suppose I won't be on my bike for all that much longer this year, anyway. Come November 15 the bike lanes throughout Montréal turn into parking spaces. Once snow begins falling it really won't be safe to be pedalling through the streets. I'm thankful I have a metro station so close by.

Eastern European Grocery
I've already begun exploring to get to know my new neighborhood. I wasn't keen on the idea of living in the English-speaking end of town but am already discovering unexpected charms. I just rode my bicycle down the road to pick up candy to give out to trick-or-treaters. I happened by a sign largely in Cyrillic script. From a distance I could read only "KRAZY CMAK" so wasn't sure if what I was passing was a restaurant or shop. I finally drew close enough to read the bottom line. Text in French "Fruits - Vegetables - Grocery - Pastry Shop" explained what was inside.

I stepped in to find goods familiar from times I've travelled across countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. A huge freezer held all manner of pierogies just waiting to be boiled up. There were a couple brands of buckwheat on offer I couldn't decide between until I realized that the bag from Russia contained 10% less than the bag from Ukraine. I bought the latter which somehow seemed the right thing to do--perhaps a faint nod of support to that country during their current civil war. I also came away with a large jar of sauerkraut from Poland and one of those cream cheese logs that I've seen only in places once Soviet.

I moved here only last night but already everything feels so comfortable in my new apartment and out in this end of town. I'm pretty certain I'll be happy living here.