Dear White Friend

(The below was not written by the proprietor of this blog. It needs to be read.)

Dear White Friend,

It is important that you understand what I am feeling as a thirty-two year old Black man now that Donald Trump has been elected President, with specific regard to race. It is important not only because you care for me, but because you need to protect and fight for me and for all others who lack the camouflage of white skin. Otherwise– and I mean this without hyperbole– we are the walking dead. And you, by your silence, ignorance and passivity, will be killing us.

I am more scared than I’ve ever been in my life. I am broken. There is a feeling when someone says or does something with racial animus to me. It is a trembling, a quaking pain that is unbelievably pervasive, as though all the water molecules in my body were suddenly replaced by that person’s pulsating hatred. At this moment, and for a long time in the future, it will feel like that but more, that the very air around me has done it, the atmosphere itself hates me for no decent reason. There is already a fear as a Black man, an extreme adrenaline rush, when a cop pulls behind me on the road. The entire country has just pulled behind me with their lights flashing.

I want to express to you the absolutely defeated feeling I have. I want you to know the sorrow that comes with having a revitalized and powerful White Supremacist element in this country, my country. I want you to know that the “not all Whites” excuses are irrelevant and actually harmful when the truth is that the strong majority of Whites were willing to vote for a man who has both spoken and acted in ways that are deeply bigoted and violent. I want you to think of the racially violent acts now committed daily by people with his name on their lips. I want you to think about what it feels like to me that so many of my fellow Americans hate me, and that I have no idea why. That I have no clue as to what we ever did to deserve this. And that they are excited and empowered to do more harm to me now than ever before during my lifetime.

I also need you to know how furious and hurt I am that life goes on as normal. Not just that the media and entertainment are already working so hard to normalize what cannot humanely become normal, but that people are walking on the street, having conversations, petting dogs and cats, anything beyond being sick and screaming over how this all must feel for me, for non-White people. I cannot believe it when I see someone look okay. This election was an act of terrorism. That is how I feel. Terrorized by White America. And it is an ongoing act of terrorism, as these White smiles I see only remind me that they are camouflaged against the brunt of it, that I am the target, and that they’ve never had skin in this game like I do.

I want to be optimistic, I really do, but honestly I don’t believe that White people will do the work necessary to save this country. And I lay the burden of saving America on White people because of this: In the ‘50s and ‘60s White Supremacy was static, stable, complacent. The appetite for Black and Brown blood in the streets was limited because it was bitterly shocking. Now, however, White Supremacy is ascendant. There is an active thirst for that blood. My blood. My blood in the streets will be met with celebration. And I don’t think that there are enough White people good enough to be strong enough to protect me and fight for me. I really don’t.

It will take a whole lot more than a safety pin. You will have to pick apart the very fabric of your understanding of race, examine the threads of your beliefs and separate even the tiniest fibers of prejudice you may see. Headscarf make you scared? You’ve ripped her faith away and humiliated her. Poor English language skills annoy you? You’ve made the doctor miss the symptoms of a lymphoma. Black man make your heart rate rise? You’ve shot him in the back as he ran away. Work at this. Diligently destroy the impure fibers, and when you can honestly say that you have, then you can re-weave. But this is only step one.

Step two is to make sure that every White person you know is actively doing the same thing. If they are not, if they refuse or dismiss the imperative, then you must literally disown them. Otherwise you are agreeing with them, you are complicit in their beliefs, and you are killing me.

Step three, resist and undermine in any way you can possibly devise the systems of White Supremacy as well as misogyny as they exist now and as the incoming administration advances them. And always, no matter the situation, confront racism and misogyny immediately and directly. I’m talking about friends, family, strangers, always, anywhere, anytime. There is no scale to racism and misogyny. They are never minor, never casual, always inestimably consequential. They are always a massive threat to humanity.

One last note, remember that Black and Brown people don’t owe you explanations to basic questions. The moment you as a White person comes asking some basic thing, I know you don’t really care because you’re too lazy to do the legwork and figure it out. We’ve literally written books so that you can understand. Think hard before you ask me to speak, be completely stumped, because I am tired and you need to respect me. And another thing, I do not owe you thanks. It is to be expected that you would fight for my safety, as I would yours. So do not go telling non-White people about how great you are for being an ally. Being an ally simply brings you to the level of basic human decency. You should be ashamed if you’re bragging about that.

I’m not going to thank you for reading this yet, because I am not sure what you will do in the future. I hope that my love for you has been well-placed all these years, and that you’ll prove it by listening to, trying to understand, and then acting on what I’m saying. And if you can’t, it is time our relationship ends. If you hear me and believe my words to be worth hearing, please do pass this along to those who would like to hear it and to those who would rather not.

Love,

CF Edley III

P.S. This letter leaves out so much, I know. I have focused on White Supremacy. There’s a whole other interlocking letter regarding misogyny to be written. I haven’t even mentioned Climate Change, or any real policy issues. Believe me, it is not for not caring. There are interpenetrating universes of immense suffering. I am devastated. I hope that you are too.

where we are and where we are going

I admit that I thought the election would be a blowout,  that white people wouldn’t go full throttle on dooming the planet. That the polls were correct and that Donald Trump was such an abomination that, although people expressed their support for him quite loudly, he ultimately didn’t have the numbers. I believed all that. I was anxious, and glued to Twitter and my RSS feed, updating 538, Sam Wang, of course. But they said it was in the bag, so I curbed my anxiety. When I voted, I was in a sea of women, and I reassured myself knowing that women, at least, wouldn’t let that happen. Wouldn’t let this happen. Watching the returns come in, looking at Sam Wang on Twitter. “Nothing matters until 10 PM,” he said. Chill out. So I did, but not really, but I chilled out, and again I’m lying here. But I did, and when it was 10 PM everything was still shit and so I looked at Twitter again, and everyone’s like, “Fuck.” And I said, oh my god this really might be happening.

I have a friend who posted on Facebook something to the effect of, “This wouldn’t have happened with Bernie.” And I looked at the Colorado measure to pass single-payer healthcare failing overwhelmingly, Russ Feingold losing, the rust belt beaming red, and all I could do was shake my head. Donald Trump was inevitable in this country, I suppose. The story of failed states, time and again, is one of the charlatan seizing power and botching it. The center can’t hold forever, as someone once said much more beautifully than I. We’re about to see what happens on the edges.

The accelerationists, naturally, will be okay with this. They can be, as they typically have the privilege to cheer for burning it all down. Wannabe revolutionaries with their 401ks and their iPhones, just as culpable as the rest of us for the horros of capitalism, pretending to be above the fray because they read Marx in undergrad and really got it, man. There’s nothing at stake for them. I’m a straight white able-bodied cis-gendered man. There isn’t much at stake for me under a Trump Presidency, either. The difference is that I understand a basic responsibility to not fuck things up for other people. That fellow leftists don’t seem to get this is gross. That they would demand a candidate cater to them, prioritize them, ensure she’s won them over, when the lives and livelihoods of millions upon millions are at stake, is the epitome of selfishness, and they don’t deserve to be called people of the left.

And that leaves us with where we’re at and where we’re going.

I went to the bar last night to read the news and get drunk and talk to random people, because fuck it that’s what bars are for, and Jesus. Just Jesus. Two friends who’ve recently started dating stopped by for food and we chatted about this and that before they left. I spoke to a lovely couple about the election, and they were boomers and on a date and just really quite nice. Another friend said she’d swing by in a bit. I got into an argument on Facebook because I dunno I just felt like it. And then in the middle of all that, there was this guy. Who is also a friend. I’m not gonna use his real name. He’s just this guy.

So this guy comes in with a buddy and two women, none of whom I know, and he’s like, “Hey!” and I’m like, smiling and pretending to be happy about anything in the world, “What the shit is going on?” And he’s like, “Kicking it, meet [names omitted because I honestly forget].” And I’m like, “Nice to meet you!” So whatever. And we get to talking and they seem fine — because fine-ness is what I’m judging the outside world on these days — and then, because I’m dumb, “Let’s talk politics, who’d you vote for?”

So both this guy and his buddy voted Trump and I’m like c’mon dude really? And they’re like Fuck Yeah Can’t Stump The Trump. And I’m like, c’mon. You’re fucking dumb. And things start to get loud between me and this dude’s friend, so I’m like, okay. Let’s go outside to talk.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t turn into a fistfight.

So we go outside to have a cigarette and not cause a scene, and we berate one another, and one of the women (the far drunker one) is like, “Go Trump. It’s just locker room talk, I’ve heard way worse than that!” And I’m like, really? And the other woman is like, These People Are Nuts, I Voted Hillary, Too. And I’m like, Thank God. And the woman who’s all Go Trump MAGA is like, “Whoops, I didn’t actually vote yesterday,” and this dude and his friend are like, “Trump isn’t the establishment,” and I’m like, “Really?”

This dude’s friend and the MAGA lady then leave to go fuck behind a dumpster (really, this is what they did), and I continue to argue with my friend, this dude. We shout and wave our stupid drunk dicks around about this and that. The dumpster fucking couple comes back from fucking behind a dumpster (again, this is really what they did — they went and fucked behind a dumpster), and they all leave.

Jane comes by a couple of minutes later. We smoke pot and way too many cigarettes and have a couple of beers and generally feel devastated.

Welcome to the future, America.

Hotel by Tom: New York City

I realize right off the bat that the task is impossible. I come to the table as someone who grew up hating the Yankees, the Rangers, every New York City sports organization, really. I lived in Portland, Oregon for three years, which pretty much disqualifies me from everything. I lived in Montreal for four — when Arcade Fire was getting big and people were like, “Whoa, Montreal is super cool now, but unfortunately I don’t speak French so I’m actually not going to ruin it this time.” Same deal as Portland, that Montreal. Minus the ruining.

So to give New York a review is kind of daunting. Intimidating. They say you can’t be a true New Yorker until you’ve lived here ten years. I was four years three days ago. I got a lot of time before I can claim that title.

But this isn’t a review of a city; it’s a review of a hotel. And if New York will allow it, since I’m not entitled to call myself a New Yorker, I’ll review it as such. I put my head to rest here for the better part of four years. I think I know the basics.

Amenities

Fantastic. I stopped in Staten Island once for gas and it was there. I don’t really think about the Bronx much, but I’m sure they have bodegas and I think there’s a zoo. My sister lives in Astoria, Queens, which must mean gyros and there’s also airports. Manhattan is, of course, the borough we all hate. Our jobs are there, but, pssh, who cares about that because I live in:

Brooklyn!

Brooklyn is filled with wonderful people. There’s a big park and rent is really expensive. But lots of people don’t have cars so it’s a trade-off. You can get a nice meal out for ten bucks. There’s laundromats where they fold your clothes and that’s like ten bucks, too. Everything is kinda ten bucks here, except a bacon, egg, and cheese, which is $3.50 max.

Weather

The weather is pretty much like everywhere. You’ll grow to love three or four months out of the year and spend the rest of your time complaining about it to your friends, whose choices will pretty much mirror yours, and if they don’t you need new friends but that’s another story.

Money

New York is not as expensive as most people make it out to be. While the cost of living is high by national standards, in terms of home ownership and rental units, simple measures like these don’t take into account the comparatively higher salaries many people earn in New York. As mentioned earlier, you likely won’t have to pay for an oil change for several years if you live here — never mind $4.00/gallon gas. You compromise.

The appropriate unit of currency is the U.S. Dollar (USD).

Health and Well Being

Healthcare is generally quite good in the United States. New York City, in particular, has several world-renowned hospitals. The availability of quality healthcare services to the general public has been greatly increased in the past several years due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As a visitor, you may want to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you may need any additional coverage.

Well being is a more complicated topic. New York City may be the loneliest in the Western Hemisphere. The people here are very happy to help in most situations, because they’re so lonely, but they might pretend it’s a burden at first, to prove that New York is hard. But really we’re all quite nice. I’ve only been punched in the face once in four years. And I’m an asshole.

Lodging and Hotels

Try your best to stay somewhere that exudes charm. Like, Midtown is gonna be very “Ooh, this is so New York,” but everyone who has to work there every day hates it, and their arguments and opinions are rather unassailable. I’m not saying that Olive Garden doesn’t have charm, or that Chipotle doesn’t have fantastic guacamole, but you can get that at home.

So, as I said, just stay in my neighborhood. I live in Brooklyn! We can eat locally and you can probably AirBnB my buddy’s spot for a couple of nights!

 

Public Transit and Taxis

This is probably the best part of New York and also the worst. But really the best. Take a screengrab of the MTA map on your phone and you won’t have to be one of those people hovering over other passengers while you try to figure out where your transfer is. Another tip: spend $20 on a Metrocard and learn how to swipe it properly before you go to Grand Central at rush hour.

With respect to taxis, never let a cabbie ask you where you’re going before you get into the cab. With respect to black cars, negotiate as soon as you sit down. They aren’t legally allowed to pick you up if you wave them down, so don’t be afraid to get an honest price. (You won’t get one because you’re new here, but maybe after three years or so… Maybe. It could happen.)

Sights to See

I’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty or 9/11. This is probably the part where you’d be better off looking at a legitimate Hotel by Tom site.

In conclusion:

New York City has been my favorite city to hate. Moving here was a stupid decision fueled by hormones and romanticized notions of what love actually is. It turned out okay because I met interesting people. There are a lot of those here. And they’re all being interesting with one another doing that timeless duty of not dying.

I’m starting to gain a semblance of self-awareness. For that, and everything mentioned above, I give New York a four out of five. Or, to put it in bold:

Rating: 4/5

It’s been real. And, thanks.

Fuck that. Here’s my last post.

I don’t know what we are supposed to do when people die, but I am taking this moment to enjoy memories of the brief time I spent with Julia. She was an outgoing and wonderful woman. The world could use more Julia Bean in it — I just wish the world weren’t so stupid as to take her from us.

amen

No.

None of this is real.

This is what you might tell yourself in the hospital at Dartmouth. You might plead. Please, at least do that.

I’ve never had a headache before, so when my nurse says, “Go to the hospital if it’s a 10 out of 10,” I call the ambulance. They give me water and I leave at 12:39 and smoke outside and let first dude go on by before getting a ride from second dude. Second dude is fine. I go to Philadelphia in the morning.

Bill answers the phone. “Tom,” he says.

“Let me ask you something,” this to the woman next to me. Too aggressive, intrusive, abrasive. Whatever. I’m smoking.

“Do you believe in God?”

She says yah. Yadda yadda, leaves. I don’t honestly care. Fundamentally, I’m selfish and in trying to solve other people’s problems, I’m simply trying to exempt myself from them.

I’m an asshole like that.

I would like to say this. So long. I am not going anywhere, but I’m going to write that novel now. If you’d like to know where I end up, email me at tomohare3 {at} gmail.whatever. I might tell you, but probably not.

This has been fun, otherwise.

a bad imitation of a ghost

I don’t quite know when I noticed the wailing from across the street, but I only pinpointed the apartment building it was coming from today. Diagonal from me, red brick, four stories. Above a pizza place and across the street from the deli that doesn’t sell beer and has given me food poisoning twice from their bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. NB, do not get them if you’re ever so inclined. The deli is next to a coffee shop/ice cream parlor/donut shop, which is dumb and twee because who wants ice cream in the winter, dude?

Not the wailing man.

The wailing man sounds like a bad imitation of a ghost.

From my fire escape you witness the gentrification of Crown Heights. To the left, an ugly pastel building with balconies used as storage units, a mixture of couples and small (“Baby, we really need to think about getting a bigger place.”) babies, and couples with dogs. To the right, an old yellowed out WWI-era  (I’m making that up — not good with architecture) lump of pragmatism. The foundation of the latter is painted with this red that sweats at sunset.

The kids in front of the latter building are loud. They are impossibly loud. Most of them are under balls-dropping age, and I can deal with it. But one of them is either 1) an older-brother with an inferiority complex, or 2) I dunno, his balls dropped and it’s that much annoying when he yells.

And they yell a lot. A lot. Because they are kids and they are OUT. SIDE. and there is basketball, and there is baseball, and soccer, and so many things to do on the SIDEWALK and get excited about. “AUHHHHHFHHGHHHHH, YOU MOTHERFUCKER.” That’s the post-pubescent one.

I hate him the most. And of course, I used to be just like him.

The heat here in the winter is good. Reliable. So is the hot water. Those count as pluses. So does: no roaches. Granted, you’re facing north, which isn’t ideal, but the sun does set directly in your eyes in the late spring and early summer, so you basically don’t need an alarm clock. If you’re a light sleeper, windows open or not, you definitely won’t need an alarm clock, because there’s a methadone clinic a few doors down and, sadly, the people who frequent it are both very punctual and very loud about that fact starting around, oh… I dunno. 6:45 or so?

There are four apartments on every floor. Four times four equals sixteen. So you live with sixteen people. You all have studios. It’s been reported that yours is among the better ones from the people who’ve seen some of the other ones, and I believe it. (Or, rather, you believe it. Because you did the walk-through, too, and you had a checkbook, duh.) You will be incredibly annoyed by the two people who lock their bikes up in the hallway on the second floor railing because the hallways aren’t particularly wide, you travel a lot, and at four-damn-thirty-in-the-goddamn-morning, please Jesus, just let me roll my roller-bag.

We are basically a college dorm. There are the ladies on the first floor, the one Irish dude on the second, the dude below me who’s kind somewhere on the autism spectrum, the black lady who just chills, and I dunno the fourth. She sometimes leaves when I do and puts out her trash.

The third floor is me, my neighbor to the right, and I dunno, some other people. And the fourth is a wasteland, except that one time I dropped a dude my keys because he said he lived here and I believed him (because that would be one hell of a lie), and it turns out he does and just locked himself out, and needed to take his dog for a walk.

I think his name is David.

The hallways are aqua blue with a pumpkin trim. Not the best combo, but I don’t pick the colors, I just paint them. As mentioned at length, and once more, for emphasis, they are also narrow. The interior apartment walls are a very faint, inoffensive blue. Each of them has a dishwasher, which I fail to understand. If you live in a studio apartment and you need a dishwasher, you have serious time-management problems.

That I took the apartment with the fire escape, the wailing man, the methadone clinic, the horrible regular children, etc. — that I took this apartment I’m fine with. The ones facing south might grow better oregano, but when this dorm burns, I don’t have to jump three stories onto concrete.

There is a lease on my counter top. The counter top is granite. My lease says, “Well? Once more for old time’s sake?” My head says, “Duh,” and my heart says, “Wait a minute.” I haven’t signed it yet. I’m still thinking.

Ongoing Montreal Part 1

You see, you might wonder, as you pass the elderly man who used to live in your neighborhood as you’re strolling down St. Laurent on a cloudy day in June —
June-uary, they called it in Portland when it happened, and it did — if he might not also remember you. Ten years ago. Nine at best. When you were still not a stranger here.

In more than four years here, I learned how to master two phrases. (I’ve probably said this before, which makes this fitting, in a literary way.)

  • Je ne parle pas francais.
  • Quell heur est-il?

Maybe, also:

  • Un pichet de Boreale rousse, si tu plait.

It’s the fact that I’m so good at saying, “Je ne parle pas francais” that gets me into trouble. That just rolls off the tongue like U’s off of W’s. A woman, her small daughter, and her smaller son approached me today at the airport in Montreal. They wanted to use my phone. I don’t really know what had happened to theirs, and I was going to be like, “Sure, yeah, mine’s got gas in it,” but then I remembered I was in Canada. And that this was a terribly expensive proposition. And that if I’d seemed so approachable so must a lot of other people with phone plans that don’t charge $2/minute to make a call while roaming.

So I said, “Desole, je ne parle pas francais.”

And she looked at me as though I had just put up three fingers wrong at the end of Inglourious Basterds, as though I’d sunk my own battleship with that tell. And she replied in kind — maybe? — and I was like, “Seriously, lady, I just went to McGill. That’s the only phrase they really teach you there.”

She asked a French woman who also said no, and I was like, really why would you say “no” you were just looking at it whatever excuse you’re babbling can’t possibly be true this is kind of gross i’m going to walk over there now.

Maybe it was the politest interaction of all time. Je ne parle pas francais.

And the hours were always, of course, ticking. First in the morning, which had really been the night, because I binge-watched that “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” show instead of sleeping. I also slowly, slowly packed. Like a pair of underwear one show and a dress shirt the next, concluded by twenty minutes of thinking I hadn’t done enough and rushing around and getting anxious, me calling a cab two and a half hours early just because I was going to CANADA and that’s INTERNATIONAL — which of course led to the inevitable let down of me not noticing 1) I was TSA pre-checked, and 2) proceeding to wait inside the airport for 45 minutes more than necessary.

I could have at least taken a nap, is my point.

I did, though, so I’m just whining because I can. I dozed for about an hour, leaning against the window, my window-aisle combo-coach seat all to myself, or whatever the fuck. I guess other people had to live there, too. I couldn’t, for the life of me, get comfortable. The “NY-based flight attendants (sic — there was only one!)” flirted kinda like old-style (?) gratuitously with the Delta Diamond guy in front of me, and I wanted to be like, “Hey. Hey! I’m Delta Silver and you should see some of the schmoes I’ve seen make diamond, pal!”

I actually didn’t want to say any of that at all. I just made it up. But I did think that playing that role for a guy who probably just flies around the country selling people widgets all the time was kinda fun.

Anyway. We landed in a plane and we didn’t die.

There are no planes here. Is one thing. Also? Where are the black people? Also, why are your Customs People so slow? They took a really long time with the black dude in front of me. I looked like a person who hadn’t 1) slept in 24 hours, 2) put a comb through his hair in 48, and 3) had a green vegetable in 72. I spent twenty seconds, tops, with them.

But there are no planes, and the loudness, such that it is, is terribly, remarkably, cunningly restrained.

*

I’ve lived in three places that I’ve loved. In chronological order: Montreal, Portland, New York. I’ve been extremely fortunate to get to know wonderful people in all three. New York has been the most incredibly difficult and rewarding experience of my life. I gave up all I dreamed about my whole life, realized that I was really good at certain things, really really really terrible at others, and so far I’ve made it. Maybe it’s just Jay-Z, but there isn’t anything I’ve seen that’s like New York.

Portland is the most photogenic monochrome music video I’ve ever seen. I love the people I met there. But aside from one or two, Mad Maxes in their own right, still able to pick up that lizard and shove it in their mouths instead of setting it free in the old growth to eat the plant culture that feeds the lower mammal culture which in turn feeds the larger, predatory animal culture, which maybe I dunno balances a food chain or whatever, who cares, go raise some chickens.

Portland is a beautiful twisted fantasy. Dreamt up by Ken Kesey and Steve Novick on acid while barbecuing with the guy in Grant’s pass with the giant sign on the 199 that says, and I fucking quote: “Get U.S out of the U.N”

Drops mic, American flag background, hundreds and hundreds of beauty all around.

I know why the fly fisherman votes against his own economic interests.

And then there is here. This first love. It’s funny, I always thought a woman named Liz was my first love. It’s funny because I don’t know that you ever have one. The thing that most defines this place for me is change.

Which is super cliche, I get it. Let me try and explain.

St. Laurent is like, I dunno, the Newbury St. of Montreal? The 5th Ave? Or would that be St. Denis?

 What it is, and what is undeniably true, is that it is the divider. Of east and west. I mean that literally, by the way. Not, “The west is better,” so much as “The East is a bit different.” I worked in contracting here for precisely one summer. I had just graduated. I was a stupid 22 year-old, much as I am a stupid 31-year old, and even I could see the difference! The nice old lady in NDG who didn’t want her feet to face the doorway, who showed me a clip of my graduation — my exact moment of graduation (McGill apparently put the whole ceremony on the site those days) — and, God, Jesus, that first time climbing over the top of a ladder. People just being like, “You’ll be fine! Don’t be a pussy about it!” Shit I would later repeat, even though I knew it was sexist, stupid, and detrimental. Shit that I would later repeat because, who cares? I’m not going to be a college. I’m going to try and get these people paid.

I believe, to this day, that Jack was the best boss I’ve ever had. Matteo comes close. No one in corporate comes within a mile. The thing about Jack, about Matteo, was that they knew that you weren’t going to get stuck in it like they did. They knew — and they showed it with the trust they put in us as 19, 21 year-old kids — that we’d be more than okay. That we’d maybe even flourish once or twice. I’ve probably told this story before, too, but, again, I don’t care:

Matteo, 6:30 in the morning: “Hey ToMAAS!.

Me: Holy fuck, god no, I promise I’ll get a cell phone.

Matteo: ToMAAS, I need yr help toDAY. To MAS.

Me: Matteo, holy shit, I just woke up you’ve got to be kidding me i can barely function let alone walk over to sling gatorade and hot dogs to high school kids i’ll die for crying out loud.

Matteo: I’ll pick you up!

I worked for two weeks in a kitchen in the more Centre part of Centreville. Some dude taught me how to make mashed potatoes and some dude was like, as I made twenty overcooked burgers for staff lunch, “The most important thing is that you didn’t freak out.”

The boss didn’t fire me, but I eventually had to come clean and say that I had no idea what Canadian labor (labour [sic]) law actually said, and so I think I maybe quit? I don’t even remember. All I know is dude would probably give me a decent recommendation today.

*

I walked by two of the holiest places in my history. The house where I became a man and the house where I there was no way to do it.

My last summer in Montreal, and God have Mercy may That not be So… My last summer, we watched the World Cup. And sometimes after a game, I’d just say, you know, kinda, “Fuck it.” The Portugese would inevitably win and the parade through my neighborhood would last for days, and I did NOT need to watch the game for that. I remember watching some goddamn game with a woman I liked, and she was rooting for the other team, and that kind of killed it.

You know?

What is my point? Here.

Here is Montreal.

There is a punching bag and two couches, one bigger than the other. Both Ikea. So is the dresser. And the desk upon which I’m writing. There’s a fan looking rather menacingly at me. An empty bottle of water. A set of contractor lights on a stand. Some fucking towels on top of the Ikea bureau. A single stool.  A full size mirror for sad-syruppy sucker-punching bag.

For a lot of us, even most of us — who’ve moved on, left, abandoned whatever it was we were pursuing there — Montreal remains this place — and it’s very much a “here” not a “there” — where even some of the people you believed in are probably still “here,” so to speak. They didn’t just say, “Meh, it was a dream and it didn’t happen and see you later.”

Shit, I saw Mark at a coffee shop today. His French is getting better.