Nicolas Bouliane

The way home Posted on

With a half-finished Tim Hortons cup in one hand and my suitcase in the other, I will walk down the long corridor at Berri-UQAM, avoiding eye contact with the beggars, but invariably cracking a smile at the fisherman sitting with a guitar in his paper mâché boat.

I will buy a ticket, walk through the turnstiles and circumvent the granite bench in the middle of the station, passing by the lonely souls who are scanning the room for familiar faces.

I will try to predict where I should stand to get off right in front of the exit at De l’église, but I had eight months to forget the right spot. I will consider each person standing on the opposite side of the rail, then my eyes will stop on the TV screen. The next metro is in four minutes. There is a festival at the Old Port. Our new prime minister has a plan for the economy. It will snow tomorrow.

The train will arrive, and three notes will precede the closing of the doors. The stations will come one after the other, each one announced twice by a soft female voice. I will pocket my phone after losing signal at Guy-Concordia. Looking up, I will notice the last-minute holiday shoppers, the discarded Metro newspapers on the benches and the tired workers fighting sleep. The train will inconspicuously leapfrog from station to station until some familiar names are announced. Charlevoix… Lasalle… De l’église.

I will remember how everyone comments on the endless escalators of De l’église. I will start daydreaming halfway up while sliding my finger on the stainless steel panels and brushing my right shoe against the bristles of the escalator. The temperature will decrease as the exit approaches, and I will mechanically tighten my scarf and button up my coat.

A cold squall will hit my face as I put my entire weight against the revolving door. I will walk to the corner of Wellington, then leap over the snow bank into Galt street. Each step in the churned snow will remind me of my inappropriate footwear. I will walk down Wellington street, passing by the pharmacy, the dollar store and the small restaurants.

In the distance, I will recognise the familiar Couche Tard ensign and half-assedly prepare a mental grocery list before I am distracted by the beautiful snow-covered streets. As I reach boulevard Lasalle, I will hasten my pace in anticipation, crossing on a red light and struggling to get my suitcase over the snow bank.

I will climb the three steps to my balcony with the snow cracking under my feet, then pause briefly to fumble with my keys. As I push my way in with all of my luggage, I will make no notice of all the snow I kicked inside. A familiar smell that eight months have not suffice to erase will bring back all manners of insignificant memories.

I will instinctively find the light switch and make a quick run around the house, trying to catch evidence of a grossly negligent tenant, but everything will be in its place. The familiarity will gradually return as my eyes reclaim each square inch of the decor, rediscovering the dark gray shag carpet, the two leather sofas, the lightly decorated walls, the silky orange throw and the large Ikea desk that were once rendered invisible by routine.

For a brief moment, I will reconsider my responsibilities and perhaps feign an attempt at unpacking, but I will give in to the comfort of fast food and a movie. I will crash on my couch with a grease-covered brown bag before me, press the space bar on the keyboard and think to myself…

Home sweet home