Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Three Years

Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of the day we arrived in Montreal. So what are my thoughts regarding each city and why did we move here. Some of this has been said before on these pages, so bear with me.

I have been pleasantly surprised by Montreal. I had a rough idea of the city and it's character from my experience of it over the previous decade, but the remaining aspects that I have learned about since have been very positive. It is very very unique city overflowing with character. Vila wrote something the other day that touched on some of it:

Ours is truly a distinct society, for reasons that include but are immeasurably more complex than linguistic affiliation. Our history is a history of smoke: of jazz clubs and burlesque houses and political backrooms. It is European, not British; Catholic, not Protestant; radical, not liberal. Montreal is a calculated risk, the fine line between meaning and poverty, connection and conflict. It is, as it is often said, the smoking section of Canada, and that’s why it is different. And so much more fun.

I have really enjoyed discovering this new place and it's people. Plus there is so much more left out there. We had chosen this place to raise our children, but part of me wonders what it would have been like to live here as a young adult, a student, or a child. We have just begun to make friends here and we are interested in how that aspect will enhance the experience.

So how did we come to decide on the move. I know it was odd for many back home because the decision came fairly quickly. We had lightly thrown around the idea of moving to Montreal over the years. Then one day we firmly decided it would happen and we left in less than six months. But that's always how we have done things. After five years of engagement we organized and had a full wedding and reception 850 miles away in three months. We decided to have a kid and gave birth nine months later. That's just how we are. As for why, there were many reasons. But above all, it had to do with best place logistically and environmentally to raise kids. The decision came soon after our first child was born.

As for Chicago. I wrote the following after the Gazette article a while back. I was going to paraphrase it, but it says too much and says some things I have been wanting to get out there.

After spreading the word about the Gazette article, I got some responses from friends and family back in Chicago that kinda caught me off guard. They were congratulatory, but there was a hint in there that the article showed an overly rosy picture of my new home. What I mean is that the article from the vantage point of those people I left to move here seemed to suggest that I saw Montreal as an immensely better place to live than Chicago.

Now I would really like to clear the air a bit. First, I have hated, HATED, those people who leave a company or a place then spend every chance possible after leaving to bad mouth the place they left in order to validate their decision. I am the last person who want to be one of those people.

Also I AM IMMENSELY PROUD TO BE FROM CHICAGO. Being a Chicagoan IS my identity and why I chose it for the title of this blog. I have expounded on this before so I don't want to keep repeating myself. There are many other aspects to who I am, but being from the city of Chicago is probably the tops. That said, I don't want to be one of those people who constantly bores everyone with stories about how things are different back home. So my Chicago tales will and should eventually tale off. I don't want to always be known as That Chicago Guy. There are just too many other facets of who I am (or at least I like to think so). But at least for now, my Chicago experiences are still fresh and give me a point of reference in my new home.

This being my third winter here, I have started to get pangs of homesickness. I think part of it has to do with the winter doldrums, and also because we don't currently live a life of a young couple, but more as parents. We don't have the same lifestyle here as when we left Chicago. But the feelings are still there. Pangs of nostalgia for all the things you can't do as a tourist are the ones that come to mind. Taking the El train to work, going to the Taste of Chicago, the Art Institute, or the Museum of Contemporary Art on your lunch hour, running on the lakefront in the morning before work, 16" softball with beverages, and just the freedom to meet up with friends and family at will... It is quite similar to any other nostalgia like high school or past travels, but maybe it's different because we made a decision to leave it. It was choice instead of forces outside of our control.

To those of you who in Chicago who have been understanding, held back any hard feelings because we left, and welcomed us back on each visit back. Thank you whole heartedly. As hard as it was for us to leave, I know it was hard for you to watch us go. I have tried to keep mindful of you and your feelings while writing these posts, but sometimes my enthusiasm gets the best of me. Again the upside of being away is that each time we return it becomes a special occasion to see each other.

As far as the content of this blog, I don't anticipate any changes. Really the purpose of it from the beginning has been to share my discoveries and experiences in this new place. Along the way interest in sharing myself jumped in. And now nostalgia has a hold on me also. So that is really how it will stay as in the title 'Observations, Memoirs, and Opinions'. I hope it stays of interest to you and hope you will keep reading knowing that I love Chicago and love my friends and family there.

Lastly, the question as to whether we will move back popped up this weekend. When we decided to move to Montreal, we made the commitment that it would be for the long haul. We did not want a question to be hanging out there so that if any little thing came up we would turn on a dime and head back. This is still the case especially since we have a house and my permanent residence should come any day now. It would take some extraordinary circumstances to return now that our roots are down.

So here is to many more years. Again I would like to thank everyone for reading and hope that I can keep it interesting for you.


Anonymous said...

It is nice to have people like you living in Montreal. I am glad that les montréalais were able to welcome you. I am even more that you kept your identity and remain a chicagoean, while being so successful in adapting in a new city/culture. Cheers to you & your family!

zura said...

Amen to that. :) I think it's wonderful when one can appreciate where one came from and carry that part of oneself into a new place and not have it taint or be tainted by the new place and the new experiences. You seem to have gone about things in exactly the right way. Nicely done.

Unknown said...

Thank you all. I hope the positive view will continue. After three years, it's probably more than just a honeymoon.

b-train, we were in the same boat. The logistics of our change in lifestyle would have probably created a lot of stress if we stayed there. There was no easy fit for all that we wanted. It was another big factor.

I still have it in my head that we may move back as empty-nesters, but that's a while off.

Anonymous said...

in regards to the "about me" quote, what of that which you did not know that you knew?

Unknown said...

Hey Jason. Sorry it took me a while to reply. The quote is actually from a seminar I took called the Landmark Forum. Eventually I will post my thoughts about it.

As for the quote, what it is trying to convey is that there is an infinite number of things out there that any one person can learn about. The explanation is that there are things each of us know. You know philosophy and wine. I know calculations and how buildings are put together. Those are the things we know. There are other things like brain surgery that both of us know that we don't know. But there are other things that we don't know that we don't know. A good example would be how I didn't know what a vibrant micro-brew culture that had here in Quebec before I met my wife. It was something I didn't know that I didn't know. I hope that makes sense.