Exactly one year ago today I arrived in Montreal with Zoe, Chloe and Merlin, and was driven here safely from Cambridge by my beloved Sheena.
Paige chose to extend her holiday visit in Cambridge at the time, so I got her place to myself for the first week or so, and it was wonderful to get myself adjusted and the place sorted on my own.
The sweetest thing ever was finding this gratitude list pictured above on her fridge, and it's still there today.
I fell in love with Montreal the very first night. There was plenty of snow and I went for a long walk on our street when I arrived. Pharma-Prix was the only thing open at that hour, and I went and bought bacon and eggs and was proud to have responded to the clerk in basic French: just "bonjour", "merci", "oui", "non" kinda thing.
I don't think I knew or remembered much more than that at the time despite learning the basics back in school. But I loved being spoken to in French and I remember how much I loved seeing signs in French because it made me feel like I was in another country even though I was only in another province.
I celebrated New Year's in the Old Port with the rest of the city, and I felt the magical energy of this city that people always talk about. I still feel it every day.
This year has been a full one for me, filled with many new and beautiful souls who've become my dear friends, a few wonderful visits home, the greatest creative experience of my life (P&B), and many months of French immersion, of course.
There have been sad times, too. Like at about month 3 when I felt very homesick and friendsick, and when things dissolved with the Frenchman, and at about month 4 or 5 when the weather was changing and I craved my forest back home like you wouldn't believe and began to resent the big city life (Parc Westmount saved me daily), and when something I had been really looking forward to turned into something I dreaded and had to separate myself from.
But that is life. It ebbs and flows and we can only ride the wave as best as we can. It's not about everything "working out" all the time. It's about trusting and believing that even when things aren't "working out" as you had hoped, they're still working in your favour. You're being redirected to something even greater and more aligned for you.
I am amazed by how my first year in Montreal unfolded. It was fruitful and exciting and I did not pre-plan any of it. I just moved towards the things that called me and away from the things that didn't. Kinda how I do life regardless of where I live, I suppose. I just follow my heart.
The biggest treasure of this year for me was bonding more fully with Paige and being reminded that even the hardest decisions (like leaving my whole life and community in Cambridge), lead to even more love and joy and depth and fullness when we are brave enough to venture into the unknown.
I am so proud to live in Montreal and I am so proud to be from Cambridge and one day I'd love to add Italy to this list.
I don't know what year 2 will bring, but I hope it will bring fluency in French, even more wonderful friendships, abundance in all areas, and an even deeper relationship with my girl as she continues to spread her wings in school, in her art and beyond.
P.P.S. If an erotic, poetic, insightful and vulnerable real-life fairytale is your kinda thing, I invite you to explore my soul's offering, The Poet & The Butterfly Collection.