Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Canada: Montréal, Quebec.

This is a selection of photos taken during our last day and last morning in Montréal. Martin and I spent most of our last day walking around the city. My brother had his uni orientation so wouldn't be spending the day with us. We ate breakfast with him at Café Martin (chosen for both the name and the good reviews), then left him at the campus. It was grey and rainy and it already felt like goodbye, which led to a deep pit of sadness lingering in me all day. I barely took any photos.

Although I knew we'd be seeing each other for dinner and a bit of TV back at our apartment before he walked back to his dorm later that night, my insides felt heavy knowing we'd have to part ways—for 6 months—in the morning. That had been our routine for the last three days: we'd all have dinner together, watch Netflix at our Airbnb, and I'd make sure my brother left our apartment no later than 9:45pm to walk back to his dorm, which, thankfully, was only 10 minutes away. We avoided telling our mother that he walked back to his place in the dark, on his own, in the snow until he had already done it several times and it could be proven that nothing terrible would happen to him.

My maternal instinct is stronger with my brother than it is with my sister; my brother and I are 6 years apart, and this is the first time he would be living out of home or doing anything for himself. He was about to discover who he was outside of home, outside of my parents, outside of the country he grew up in, outside of his friends, outside of anything familiar. I wasn't worried, I was immensely proud and excited for him—but, beyond all logic and reason, I was heartbroken nonetheless. I haven't even lived at the same house as my brother for years, yet there it was anyway; the pain of missing, the pain of separating from your blood in a very real, halfway-across-the-world way. I cried hard when he left the apartment that night, knowing it would be the last time I'd look down through my frosty window at his small frame passing under the streetlamp, and although I suspected my brother also shed a few tears on the walk home, I didn't find out for sure until I spoke to my mom a week or so later. Had I asked, he would have told me the truth (we aren't really ashamed of emotions in our family), but I didn't want to, because I knew the answer would make me hurt all over again.

After three days in Montréal, it was time to say goodbye to the city and my little brother. I had been dreading this morning. The night before was like a practice run for what we'd feel that day. We met up for our final breakfast at our favourite café: Pikolo Espresso, which was actually started by a lady who was so impressed by Australian coffee culture she decided to bring it to Montréal. It was so homely and cosy and I remember it fondly. We all returned to our Airbnb; Martin and I finished packing and my brother lay down on our couch one last time, only to fall asleep. I wanted to be selfish, greedy, and I could have woken him up so that our last half hour together was full of talking. Instead, I let him nap and savoured that as my memory of him. There were no words I could cram into thirty minutes that would be any more memorable or meaningful than simply caring enough to let my little, little brother sleep. We walked down that tiny staircase for the last time, taking some final photos together until our Uber arrived to take Martin and I to the airport. We hugged goodbye what must have been three times before I hurriedly piled myself into the car, lest I let slip the tears I was keeping at bay, waiting 'til we had at least driven out of sight before I could release them. I watched him walk away, waving him one last goodbye through the window as we passed the intersection, swallowing the lump in my throat, blinking saltwater away.

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