ARE YOU A FOREIGNER IN YOUR OWN CITY?

I am. Over the last couple of years I have come in contact with more than a few Europeans living in Montreal and the one thing they’ve all made me realize is how much I take the city not to mention the province and country I live in for granted. Like most things that become a comfortable staple in our lives (family, friendships, marriage etc…) the desire to explore the seemingly familiar gets lost in routine.  It’s unfortunate really, not only because foreigners seem to know more about my city than I do but because it prevents me from adding some much needed excitement into the humdrum of the day to day. What’s amazing is the little effort it actually takes in order to refresh your perspective on the deceptively tired norm.

This past weekend my sister, husband and I found ourselves strolling the streets of Griffintown after a productive cinq à sept. 10 minutes into our walk we caught up with some Acadians asking for help in using the Bixi payment system. After assisting them with their rentals, I looked at my husband and said “we need to try this”. Six years post inception we had still not ridden a Bixi. As the birthplace of this transportation phenomena it occurred to me how ridiculous of a circumstance that was and so I grabbed his credit card, shoved it into the machine and collected my ride. While my sister opted to head home, Ricky and I made our way to Old Montreal on our bikes. Mind you, we’ve gone to the Old Port on many a date nights, but exploring it through the eyes of a reckless Bixi rider on a Friday night was something else (I kid, we were very responsible). For starters, nothing beats gliding past slow moving traffic at peak hours and not having to worry about parallel parking while hordes of people examine your technique far supersedes the butt crack sweat stain. More importantly, the 15 minute ride allowed us to discover places that typically don’t catch our attention in the car.

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Frankly this small action of trying something novel in an old and familiar setting provided me with a new found appreciation for my city. It’s motivated me to apply this learning on a more regular basis and on other aspects of my life. These days it seems like everyone is in search of that that “joie de vivre” but there seems to be a misconception that it takes too much time and money to find it. Maybe all it really takes is an openness for trying something different, I mean, when was the last time you did?

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