It’s hard to believe it’s only been a month and a half since I left my beloved Montreal. And in so little time, everything seems to have changed. I can’t possibly go into every little detail, so I’m going to sum it up into a few little vignettes.
A sunshine kind of state
When we arrived, we were immediately ushered into the lobby. It was crisply decorated with glassworks and softened with plush fabric, the odd twinkle reflecting on shiny surfaces. We ordered drinks and waited, while I struggled to down Francis Ford Coppola’s bitter Chardonnay. After 15 minutes, we were taken to our seats. The leather chairs were wide, each with its own ottoman. We couldn’t help but squeeze the arms and the back. Our waitress arrived, took our dinner orders, and brought us more drinks. Shortly after, my melon mojito and roasted salmon with market greens and cream sauce arrived. Then the theatre dimmed the lights and the movie began. “God bless America,” I said to the husband unit.
On my way to the bathroom, I ran into the drunk girl who’d stolen the microphone from tonight’s musician and given her own rendition of a disco tune he wasn’t playing. She was accompanied by two more drunk girls. To be fair, I was a bit tipsy myself, which could explain why I don’t quite recall why I chatted them up in the first place. Of course, it isn’t difficult: just tell a girl she looks pretty. That gets things started, and usually on the right foot.
Hearing my exotic, otherwordly accent, Drunk Girl #1 asked me where I was from. I told her Canada, which she connected to the United States.
“My aunt’s husband – my u’cle – he’s top…he’s one-atha top cancer doctors in…in…Maine,” she said.
“Really?” I said.
“He’s…uh…he’s 121st,” she went on.
I laughed a bit. “Out of how many?” I asked.
Her face contorted slightly, and then frowned. “I dunno!” she yelled.
“Crap,” I thought, “my sardonic was out loud.”
“I’m not being flippant,” I tried to explain, “I’m really just curious.”
“Oh,” she said calmly.
“She’s not always like this,” Drunk Girl #3 said, “she’s just drunk tonight. Wanna come dancing with us?”
I politely declined. When I returned to the table, the libertarian criminal defense lawyer from Texas was asking the husband unit how on earth it makes sense for the government to pay for his rich-as-Roosevelt mother’s health care. He wasn’t being rhetorical.
Five empirical truths about England (to a Canadian, anyway)
1. Pubs aren’t bars so much as a public service.
2. The Crown Jewels are a show of power and wealth, but not of taste.
3. It’s coming at you from the right.
4. Peas come with everything, and sandwiches are everywhere.
5. If it can’t be resolved over tea, you’re overreacting.
No hablo Inglés
After a slightly awkward but utterly efficient waxing with a Spanish esthetician, who had no patience for my cutesie non-Spanish apologies, I joined the husband unit at a seaside bistro for afternoon beer. Moroccan vendors kept approaching us with their handfuls of knock-off watches and sunglasses. “No” quickly became a function. In between nays, the banter was lazy but strangely productive. After we’d had enough, we took one last walk along the shore. On the sidewalk, more Moroccan vendors were selling handbags. One caught my eye. It had a floral design with black sides and a faux-croc texture. A big “D&G” buckle shone in front. I wasn’t intent on convincing people I owned a D&G bag, but I did like the design. So I got it. The husband unit helped me stuff the contents of my “old” bag into the new purse. On the way to find a taxi, another Moroccan vendor was selling the same purse, but its buckle read “Prada.”
The husband unit shrugged. “That’s exactly what you pay for.”
Worth the wait – A shameless plug
Just before leaving, I was invited to take part in The Art of Waiting, a collective art project with specific parameters that we all have to follow to the letter. The idea is to explore the notion of waiting through photography and text. Each participating artist was sent a letter in the mail with an invitation to take part. Then we had to send our bios to the curator, Jeff Nachtigall, in the mail. Each month, we have to submit at least one text and one photo on the theme of waiting. The texts are posted immediately to the project’s site. Where the photos go, you’ll all have to wait a year to see them, and actually, so will the artists. We can only use film, and we have to wait to develop it in a year. So far, I’ve only submitted one text, but I’ve been taking photos like crazy. Of course, Lomography is going to figure prominently in the work I do. More importantly, what a lovely way to keep art in my life on this special year when things are a little upside down.