So I leave Montreal this week. Like, permanently. And I have mixed feelings about it. There were times when I was homesick for pizza and American Netflix and thought this day would literally never come, times when I would have given anything to be able to say that I could count on my fingers the amount of days I had left in this city, but now that it’s finally here I almost feel like it came too soon. How is it even possible that I’ve already lived here for two years?? All of a sudden the time I spent here is becoming past tense. Like, hey, remember that time I lived in Canada? Yeah, because that already happened and is totally over. That freaks me out a little bit.
Now that it’s getting to be time to leave, I’ve found myself reflecting on the last two years (and by reflecting I mean looking at old Facebook albums and scrolling through my Timeline. 2013, you guys), and, especially given the immense amount of bitching I tend to do about living in Canada, I’m actually kind of surprised by how many things about Montreal I’m going to miss — and not just the trivial stuff like poutine and Canadian beer. I’m going to miss how beautiful Montreal is when it’s not a frozen tundra of ice and snow. I’m going to miss the terraces and the Old Port and attempting to make the trek up to the chalet at Mont Royal (bailing more than half-way up in favor of smoothies, of course) on a perfectly sunny day (of which there have been a total of like ten since I’ve moved here). I’m going to miss my best friend living three minutes down the street from me. I’m going to miss having my own little apartment in a city in which I can afford to not have a roommate. I’m going to miss the sense of independence that comes with living in a foreign country all alone. And yeah, okay, I’m really going to miss poutine a lot too.
That being said, I also feel like I am so ready to return to the land of the free and the home of the goddamn brave, otherwise known as the United States of America. If I’ve learned one thing from living in a foreign country (even one that’s in the same time zone as where I grew up), it has to be how much I love the USA to death. I mean, how skewed is that? I moved to Canada and all I got was this newfound appreciation of my own country. But real talk: I’m pretty sure that going abroad (does Canada even technically count as abroad? Whatever) is supposed to make you more worldly or cultured or, you know, something like that. And in some ways it totally has. In the space of two years, I’ve met more amazing people from all over the world than I may ever have the opportunity to meet again in my entire life, and they are some of the best people I’ve ever known. But being in Canada surrounded by Europeans and Australians and yeah, I think I even met a few Canadians while I was here, made one thing abundantly clear to me: I am like, so American. The way I speak, the way I act, and my particular preference for New Haven style pizza can all be at least partially attributed to the fact that I grew up in Connecticut, USA. I just don’t think I was ever aware of it before I was suddenly the only American on the block. Before I moved here, I was pretty ambivalent about my American-ness, and I definitely never really thought of myself as particularly American or patriotic. But it turns out that I am, and that’s cool, because it’s normal for people to feel an inherent sense of love and patriotism towards their homeland, even if it’s one that’s got as many problems as the United States has.
So I guess what I’m trying to say with this meandering farewell post to Montreal that somehow turned into a love letter to the USA is that I’m really going to miss it here, but also that I’m definitely ready to go home, because Dorothy really knew what was up — there’s no place like it. Most of all though, I feel super grateful and lucky that I was able to live and go to school here for two years (let’s be real for a sec: as much as I complain about living in Canada, the alternative to coming here probably would have been finishing school in Connecticut, which would have been both lame and miserable, probably). So, in the immortal words of a really wise Canadian named Alanis Morissette, THANK U, Montreal. You rock, don’t ever change (but if you had to change one thing make it the average temperature in January, k thanks bye).