Advance Nostalgia V

Lisa in front of
Château Frontenac
QUÉBEC, Canada
November 21, 2014

Is it too soon to have such a firm sense of nostaligia for a place I left so recently? It hasn't been even a year and a half since I was living here in Québec City. But, be it a return to a renowned World Heritage-listed site or to some random hole-in-the-wall that I used to frequent, I always love coming back to the landmarks that defined this city to me.

I've played tour guide enough times that offering a visiting friend the flash tour of Québec City takes me little thought or planning. There are the standard architectural destinations that I always bring people to: the city walls, the Château Frontenac, the plaza and buildings of the lower town where the city was founded some 400 years ago. Between the guidebook attractions there are the personal favorite places where I enjoy pausing for a snack, a drink, or for a full meal. A pastry at the Paillard Bakery, a glass of scotch at the bar of the Château Frontenac, or a meal at Chez Temporel often make the list.

Lisa in Québec's
National Assembly
Showing friends around isn't a set formula: there's always some variation, somewhere inevitably off-script, that I bring each visiting friend. On this trip it was lunch at the National Assembly. Having toured the building and eaten there on previous occasions I knew it would be a good place to take somebody making their first visit to the province. The restaurants inside (there are two) offer menus as typically Quebecois as could be. The parliament building itself is worth a look both inside and out. Few places are more signficant to Québec's identity, both present and future, as either a place within Canada or distinct therefrom.

It's just Lisa and I who have come here for this quick tour of La Capitale Nationale. We were supposed to be three--but this morning Tiffany decided that she'd rather stay back in Montréal to have more time catching up with another friend who lives there. It would have been fun to have had her along--though I've certainly enjoyed spending a full day catching up with just Lisa. Everything else we'd done over her brief visit yet far had been together alongside Tiffany. It's been good to have the time to re-connect one on one.

David at Place d'Youville
Skating Rink
It turns out that Lisa has been doing well. It's been a full three years since we last saw each other in-person. She's still living out in Los Angeles, she's still working as an attorney, and she seems to have firm plans for further adventures once the contract she's been working on finally comes to an end. In the meanwhile she's been taking sailing lessons so talks animatedly of setting off to explore specific islands (Greenland and Madagascar were among several that intrigue her) as defining her next period travel. Though she came in from L.A. not by boat but by air I joked that where we met up was perhaps a harbinger of good things soon to come: Montréal is also set on an island.

After our visit to the National Assembly and the other landmarks that are my standard stops when I show friends around Québec City I asked Lisa if she'd be up for another of my favorite past-times from days living here: ice skating at the rink off of Place d'Youville. Lisa was game. The Christmas decorations and lights I remembered creating such a nice atmosphere were already hanging back up on the surrounding buildings and nearby length of city wall. We finished lacing up right as the Zamboni cleared a fresh layer of ice.

Château Frontenac
behind David and Lisa
This visit has reminded me of the way I tend to interpret my life yet-far what times I look back on it. I so often see it as divided into stages defined by my routine in whichever part of the world I was living over whatever period of years. I've certainly encapsulated a neat view of the period living in Québec City: learning French at Université Laval, ice-skating at Place d'Youville, forging friendships with both local Quebecois and fellow immigrants alike. Re-visiting locations all around town triggers so many happy memories from that time.

Which has made me realize that at some point sooner or later I'll be reflecting back with similarly warm associations on my time living in Montréal. Before long I'll be recalling "my time living there" with affection much like what I'm now feeling here in Québec City.

But, that nostalgia trip won't be happening anytime too soon. We drive back tonight from our dash to Québec's capital city back to its sole metropolis.

Next stop: Montréal