Before the pandemic, I relieved my stress by chugging beer from a regulation Sleeman cup. Now, I go for walks. Which one is healthier? I couldn’t tell you.
Whether I am sad, happy, overwhelmed, or lonely, I go for a walk. These days, all I do with my free time is go for walks, exploring the city until my wanderlust is satisfied. Although I enjoy strolling the icy streets in solitude, sometimes I hope for company––I would love for you to join me today.
If you were not here, I would plug in my headphones and put on some music or a podcast to avoid being left alone with my thoughts. I especially enjoy listening to podcasts about mental health and music that reminds me of a night out with friends before the pandemic. Sometimes, I wonder if TikTok dances will dominate the post-pandemic club scene––I sure hope not. Well, I am glad you are here today so I am not dwelling on the haunting memories of Tuesdays at Café Campus.
We begin our journey by wandering through the unique and artistic Plateau neighbourhood. This community captures the best of Montreal: Beautiful snow-capped streets, incredible street art, and eccentric coffee shops. Between the beautiful architecture and the intricate murals, one feels transported to an art gallery.
Inevitably, one of us slips and falls—it is winter in Montreal, after all. We also try to avoid all the icicles about to fall and end our lives. The weather may be unforgiving, but our face masks, although hard to speak through, help keep us warm. As we continue walking, we find ourselves at Parc La Fontaine, which––surprise, surprise––is under construction.
To avoid the construction, we walk towards the skating rinks. Although we did not bring skates, we stop for a moment to watch the skaters. We watch children trying to imitate their parents, friends crashing into each other, and couples sharing tender moments. We reminisce about when we could skate with our friends and family until our toes froze. We notice more and more people lacing up their skates and we decide to leave before we lose our minds over people gathering in big groups during a pandemic. We get hungry from all this walking, so at our next stop, we decide to get some food.
On our way, we pass curbside garbage and a depanneur plastered with posters— yet more classic Plateau sites. This poster of a Corona on the beach seems to be mocking our inability to have a social life due to the pandemic. I also notice that the carton of milk sitting in the heap of garbage on the street is the same as the one I have at home—neat.
In search of a good meal, we head straight for Chez José, a cafe/restaurant serving sandwiches that must be made by God herself. Once we finish eating, we wipe our hands clean, apply sanitizer (of course), wave goodbye to each other, and plan to go for another walk soon. We wish each other luck with all the piled-up assignments awaiting us back home, and then we go our separate ways. As I head back to my apartment, I dream about what, and whom, I will encounter on my walk tomorrow.