It was not until I was divorced that I realized the healing properties of travel. Coming up in Oklahoma, I had travelled very little during my youth and young adulthood. It seems that many folks in that part of the world don’t place a high priority on international travel, and with my family circumstances so fragile, vacations were simply not possible.
My own divorce coincided with the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, when Americans became fearful of getting on planes and going abroad. I took the opportunity to buy cheap tickets and see the world. I came to realize that solo travel was a balm for a broken heart. There are so many valuable, amazing lessons of travel—especially being on one’s own—I scarcely know where to begin. I will write about it more… and often.
My recent trip to Montreal has kicked up a cocktail of emotions and reminded me why travel is so very vital. I’ve been to this beautiful city many times—with my ex-husband and my last long-term boyfriend (the Hungarian psychiatrist), among others. One of my first trips to Quebec was with my oldest girlfriend so many years ago—when I had not yet married. During the Labor Day weekend of 2001 (just days before 9-11), I dragged my work intern to join me on a road trip to Montreal. My last visit to the city was about 4 years ago, for a work conference. I recall vividly my return to NYC through the Montreal Airport. The passport control officer asked me “Why I’d been in Montreal?” I nonchalantly said, “To find a Canadian husband.” He furrowed his brow, so I followed up, “The Canadians are better than we are.” To which he retorted, “I will have you know I am from the United States.” I replied, “They are still better than we are.”
Anyone who knows me is aware that I not only love travel, but I adore Canadians. This trip only confirmed my feelings. I have visited many parts of this wonderful country, worked with Canadians, and served as a wedding officiant to lots of Canadian brides and grooms. I continue to believe that they are among the most generous humans on the planet. This is my oft-recited theory about their good nature: Canadians are the Golden Mean of the British Commonwealth. They show the grace and manners and dignity of the English—but they are somewhat more casual and approachable like the Australians (or the American colonies). In every way, I find them charming, earnest, kind and magnanimous. I was not disappointed with this trip.
I could go on about why I think the Canadians and Quebecois are so lovely and decent, but that’s for another post, I think. What I can say about my road trip is this: In a time of ever-increasing temperatures and precious little winter in New York, it is fantastic to visit a place where snow is on the ground and continuing to fall during my visit! Even on a relatively short car trip to Quebec, I can use my passport and be surrounded by a language other than English! In other words—I really am in a foreign country, with a different language, currency, and customs. One can wear animal fur without retribution and enjoy French cuisine from real croissants to escargot, all about town. Churches (Catholic and Protestant) are plentiful and great, publicly-funded universities are front and center in the community. Local news has a decent, civilized tone. The concern with “First People” in Canada is, in my estimation, more sensitive than in the U.S.A. There is a leisurely pace and all work seems to be valued–there is a mix of ages and ethnic backgrounds, in all manner of jobs. Folks are far less consumed with their digital devices and inter-racial couples/families/groups seem more at ease.
Enjoy some images of a long four-day weekend, arriving on Valentine’s Day. And, in case you noticed an image in the video that featured John Lennon and Yoko Ono, it is from their famous “Bed-In for Peace,” at the Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth Hotel, where I stayed for the holiday. It is a lovely space with gracious customer service.