This Friday I’ll be celebrating 10 years from the day I first set foot in Canada. Officially to study English at an ESL school in Montreal, I came really to meet Alan face-to-face for the first time.
We met at an IRC chat room on Sept 1st, 1996 (yes, I already had Internet in Brazil back then!). I collected postcards, so I asked people if they could send me any and he was one of the people who contacted me privately offering to send me one of Montreal. We chatted all night. And the night after that. And the one after that one. Slowly we realized we had sooo many things in common despite all the distance in cultures, upbringing, age… He made me laugh like no one else. He was also able to read my mind or finish my sentences from over thousands of kilometers away. We knew we had something special.
I had been planning to go to England to practice my English. Montreal now seemed like a better idea. Everything seemed to be conspiring in our behalf. I would have to fly through the US and many people told me it was VERY difficult to get a visa to the States, that it took many hours of lining up in front of the American consulate in Rio. The day I showed up there was no line up. I was in and out in 15 minutes. People told me it took weeks for the visa to be issued. The man at the consulate told me to come back in three days. Three days later, I was again in and out in 10 minutes, with a multiple-entry visa to the US that was valid for 10 years. The Canadian visa was equally easy.
I flew Rio-Sao Paulo-Toronto-Montreal. Alan had explained to me that he would be waiting for me at the bottom of the escalators at Dorval Airport, in Montreal. I’ll never forget coming down the escalators – the first thing I saw were people’s feet down below. Then I saw two, in running shoes and jeans, that were bouncing from foot to foot. I laughed and thought “that’s him!”. Of course it was him.
I did attend the ESL class. It was great! It was during that class that I decided to become a historian, but that’s another story.
In many ways, those five weeks in the summer of 1997 marked my life forever. Alan and I cemented out relationship and the long period of preparing to move to Canada started. I had a degree to finish in Brazil and for the next 3 years, Alan and I would fly back and forth. The month after I came back from Canada, I was offered a freelance desktop publishing job that gave me both the means and the freedom to spend a month in Canada every 6 months. Alan would visit me in between, meaning we would see each other every 3 months. In November of 1999, I defended my undergraduate thesis, got married and moved permanently to Canada.
As Savage Garden once said
I want to stand with you on a mountain.
I want to bathe with you in the sea.
I want to lay like this forever.
Until the sky falls down on me…
I was only 22 years old that summer. But there was no doubt in my heart that I had found my soul mate. This Friday we’ll be in Montreal celebrating with dear old friends the 10th anniversary of my first trip to this country that had never been on my radar before but that is now my home.
Picture 1 (left) – at our friend Jenn’s cottage, north of Montreal, the day before I was due to come back to Brazil. It was a very sad, melancholic day. The last picture is of the sunset that day.
Picture 2 – At a restaurant in Ottawa. Was I ever young!!
The following pictures shows my ESL class, Alan & I at Île Notre Dame, a squirrel (I was fascinated by the squirrels, I must have dozens of pictures of them! Now I think back and shake my head…), relaxing at the neighbourhood pool, watching Adrienne (Alan’s daughter) diving, group picture after a BBQ with all of Alan’s friends….