December 27, 2011, Montreal: What do you remember about your birthplace? Is it a place you stayed? Grew up? Learned to love? Loved to hate? Is the place you were born one you know well? Do you still call it home? Are your roots still there or did you dig them up long ago, letting them trail along behind you like a stick in the sand?
I returned today to Montreal, the very first of my many hometowns.
Montreal is a city I don’t know well. It’s been 15 years since I’ve been back. Even then, in 1996, I didn’t fully experience the city; it was the view from the deck of the swimming pool and the competition I remember most. And yet I take tremendous pride in being truly, authentically and originally from this city. Regardless of the fact that Montreal remains somewhat foreign to me, I take pride in my Canadian roots.
I wonder if the Montreal of today will look dramatically different from the one my parents knew so well in the 1970s. I wonder which elements of the old neighborhood have stayed the same. My parents have come along with me this week to find out. Together we will walk these cold streets of our old hometown to recall what we once knew and to learn many things we didn’t. I wonder what’s changed since that day my brother gave a thumbs up to the camera posing high above the city at an overlook in Mont Royal Park. I wonder what it’s like to live here in this city, the one I first called home.