Normally when I come back to edmonton i get an itching to leave after about 5 days. I have the feeling that I’m coming back to Edmonton but not home to edmonton. I judge the wide roads made for the wide cars and the people who don’t care about fashion even though I don’t care about fashion. I do this thing in my head that elevates montreal in comparison, perhaps in part in order to feel i have an identity separate from the place I grew up, something my own. Only I knew what the best bagels tasted like. Only i knew the wind of rushing cars on Saint Laurent after dancing. Only i knew the view from the mountain is way better than the view from the stade d’olypique. But I also did that elevation head thing to convince myself that i love Montreal. That it is a loveable place. Yes, I had to convince myself.
Today as I prepared to leave edmonton I felt sad. Not like i was home sad, but that its a hell of a lot more home like than montreal. The broken city. I was thinking about my washer and dryer. I love those things. But I am not itching to go back and be their master. My apartment. So cozy. Orange. But I an not itching. My people, the real reason I stay, and the truly loveable side of the city, they call me and i miss them. But no itching yet. (Except for that caused by dog hair.)
While my friend Julien and i were both riding along downtown on his scooter, sharing the seat and chuckling about how squished we were, we got no venomous looks from passers by. Or rather the people we were passing by. Damn that thing goes fast. It is a peculiar sight to see i’n sure, but i was done with walking and he was a good comrade and shared his ride. As we went down the sidewalk to our first Underwater City Podcast interview of the day the front wheel got stuck in some serious springtime Alberta mud. I got off and chilled while J tried to get er out. It was stuck gooood. Before i had time to ask him, a seemingly seven foot tall man wearing a blue jumpsuit workman’s uniform ran across the street, right up to the rear end of the scooter, heaved it up as though it weighed no more than twenty pounds, said nothing, whipped around to the front of the thing, hauled it up again, i’m pretty sire with one hand, and then all he said was ‘ya you gotta be careful of where you go around here.’ No condescending tone, no look at me I’m an amazing fucking person because i helped a fellow pedestrian out, no you don’t know what you’re doing you helpless bunch of crips. None of that. As we drive away J said, ‘was that a redneck? I like rednecks.’ Ha! The whole thing was fast and surprising and felt so real. Like that guy didn’t want us out in the snowstorm any longer than we had to be he and he was going to do what he could to help out. Basic, rare, and left me feeling good and helped and seen in the space we were sharing with that seven foot tall onesie man.
I used to see mainly negative sides of the city when i visited. The excess, the box stores, the voting trends. I judged, i tried to feel more cosmopolitan, unique, cultured. But lets be honest, culture don’t mean a whole hell of a lot if it looks at you stuck in a mud pool, looks away and walks on.
So tonight as I lie in bed, shivering beneath my blankets, telling myself i’m tired and need to sleep soon to catch the accessible taxi that was really easy to reserve in five and a half hours, I’m not itching to leave, I’m feeling sad to be leaving edmonton. Daily life things have been relatively easy the past week. And what hasn’t been easy, like crossing big streets by foot and catching busses, has at least been pleasant. Bus drivers are nice, people are patient, there’s space between those big roads to breathe. I have not felt judged or discriminated against in my urban wanderings. And that is definitely something to write home about.