Even though most of my traveling lately has been between one home (Brockville, Ontario) and another (Montreal, Quebec), I will still say that I am fond of the traveling I do. Even if I am only moving between two opposing spots of familiarity, I still find myself feeling content whenever I am riding on train-tracks or roads back home. Montreal is as beautiful of a city to leave as it is to enter. Whenever I‘m travelling on the train and see that familiar red glow of Montreal’s “Farine Five Roses” sign, I often come to imagine it as a friendly wave saying either hello or goodbye. Whereas Brockville—well…Brockville is a city that never really changes, rather it seems to stay as it is, it seems serenely contained. It is almost as though the city has become trapped in a memory of itself; perhaps a memory of my ownself: my whole memory, where contained is my childhood, my remorse, but more dominantly my own surreal nostalgia. I enjoy traveling then because it lets me traverse the spaces between these two thresholds, between the progressive present and the frozen past: photograph to film, film to photograph, and yet one is not so different from the other.
To get where I am right now, that is to say back home in Brockville (sort of), I took a 4 hour bus trip that was divided into two parts. The first half was to Ottawa (a city I had lived in during the summer between living in St. Catherines and living in Montreal; also the city where both of my brother’s live), whereas the second half was my actual trip back to Brockville. Because I took the bus, I did not to get to see the “Farine Five Roses” sign in my leaving, but if I had been looking for it I probably would have. Montreal’s like that—it’s visible. Somebody once told me that Montreal had a rule where you could not build a building higher than the mountains. I thank the gods every day I spend in Montreal for it is because of this rule that no matter where I am in Montreal, whenever I look up I will always be able to see the daytime sky or the nighttime stars (but only if you squint through the city lights). To me a home cannot be found in a city where the skyscrapers seem less like buildings and more like prison bars. I take this thought and realize now that cities are living, not because they are alive, but because they are life, or rather containers of life, a lot of life, life that needs to breathe, not to be stored away in file-cabinet residences.
(Obscurely I remember a bit of my dream last night but it seems to be only a toe-nail off the foot of the entire person my dream seems to be. I still don’t remember my dream but for a second, before I had focused on trying to remember my dream, it seemed like I almost did. Subconsciously, I realize that this writing comes from a lingering dream that I regrettably cannot remember; a memory I refuse to find? And yet where my dream had seemed to have once been the clog to block my mind before, it is now, either because of my writing or because of the boozeanated coffee that I am now drinking, that my mind’s flow has become unjammed. )
Even though I don’t always get to see the Farine Five Roses sign, it is impossible for me to miss the Riverie Du Nord as I pass over it. Or am I passing over Lak des Deux Montages? Bodies of water rarely have borders and so frequently, when seemingly stirred all together, do I find that they become confusing.
As I passed over (a body of water) the summer solstice sun was preparing to set, casting over the surface of the dark water a gilded sheen. For a while the water did not seem as it was, which is to say liquid in nature, but instead was frozen solid, but not like ice, but rather like something much more precious; like gold. In observing this Elysium scene before me, I then spied a canoe floating across the surface. A black little boat seemingly no larger than my pinky finger which in actuality must have been moving, but when compared against the speed of the bus appeared to be still. Still like a photograph and yet compelling like a painting, as though I was not on a bus, but rather at a gallery and thus spying carefully the brushstrokes hidden across the canvas of reality. I was neighbored by a lady, a stranger who had taken the window seat, and was now asleep with her hand contemplatively resting under her chin as though she had carried her thoughts into dreaming.
A man behind me then whipped out his camera and took a picture. I felt sorry for this man. I wanted to warn him. In our constant attempt to capture every mortal moment of this waking world on convenient disks and god-spoken digital clouds we lose the knowledge that some scenes cannot be re-captured again—physically perhaps, but spiritually never. The man had come to take that moment of natural beauty and left it to be nothing but a collection of pixels in an array of a possible thousand other pictures just like it. It was a moment of its own moment, a mythic moment in memory; not to be a digitally captured scene, but instead a deeply embedded psychic symbol (as moments like it often are). I capture it now in writing so that perhaps it will survive as I think it should.
There’s a kind of transformation that happens when traveling between Montreal and Brockville. Each place seems to be a world of its own: Montreal like rapids carrying me quickly through events I sometimes fail to even recognize before they have already passed, and Brockville, like quarry water, still and resting, giving me so little to observe and yet forcing me to look until the familiar distorts, becoming something completely new to see; a faint Mona Lisa smile.
Later on the bus and the sun had become mostly set, the sky turning purple, a resilient orb now singeing the tips of trees below it. This was seen from outside my side of the bus. On the other side, there was an early moon, white and faded in the tide of the coming evening sky. Not only was I between one home and the other, but also was I now perfectly stuck between Moon and sun, stars and skies, night and day. And then I looked passed my sleeping neighbor and saw in the window’s reflection that I too had been cut in half by shadow and light. I thought for a while that perhaps this threshold world had come to absorb me, consuming me until I myself had become not one with Brockville, or Montreal, but rather with the space that divides the two.
After my day home, I spent the night with my town friends. Over the course of the night a fog had enveloped our small town, holding us captured within its dense and opaque cloud. We celebrated the occasion by walking to the docks and jumping into the freezing cold St. Lawrence. Of course, I was the one to do this nude, imagining that the paleness of my full-skin would disappear into the foggy veil as I youthfully leaped towards the world unseen beyond, off the dock, into the cold, black, and familiar.
The street lights, beacons in the fog, shined their vaporous auras around us like crowns on tall kings, making us the jesters of their court. Later when seated on a bench on Blockhouse Island, I looked forward and saw only a gray screen, and thus knew of the water only by hearing its nightly calls of low splashing waves, and distant dipping fish. Behind me, there were only outlines and lights; figures obscured and glowing bulbs, a sky-shining portal, a lighthouse red and calling. I was not lost in this fog, but rather, as though it was more a blanket, comforted.
As I dreamed of travelling again, replacing the paths between homes with an ocean, I began to think again of the thresholds between spaces. I contemplated silently the idea that I no longer would be separated by provinces, but rather by nations. Waiting across the ocean was there to be for me an entirely new progressive present to be had and, if that was true then that meant that waiting here still, between the borders of this country, would there always be my frozen past: photograph to film, film to photograph, and yet one not so different from the other.