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making and renewing friends

Brain back, briefly, as the others watch the Roger’s Cup, Serena Williams and Jokovic winning … my aunt and mother lifelong tennis players and fans. I, less so. So here’s a bit about the last few days.

Penny and I arrived at Toronto’s Union Station on Monday morning – a long line waiting, and behind us, a man with a friendly face and an English accent. So I began chatting with him and his wife; when we boarded the train, we sat together, and by the time we arrived in Montreal five hours later, A. and C. were our best friends. We’d heard all about their three sons, especially the middle son who hasn’t spoken to them for ten years and the successful youngest son who lives in Toronto; we’d discussed C.’s cold mother and alcoholic father, A.’s appalling parents with their multiple marriages – and they’d heard, of course, all about us. We discussed British politics and various bits of Canadiana, and at the end, before vanishing into Montreal, we exchanged email addresses. I do think this is a travel encounter that will endure. Fine people.

We stayed with Glen, a friend of my friend Louise, who has an apartment on the ground floor and a whole apartment above which he lets to visitors and gives to visiting friends including us – a spacious quiet place, with access to Glen’s tiny swimming pool, perfect for a refreshing dunk on a stifling day. I remembered, as we walked around, how much I love Montreal, its unique neighbourhoods and casual, open vibe and street life, the streets crowded with balconies and winding exterior staircases that don’t exist, I think, anywhere else in the world – a city where neighbourly relationships are built on balconies and staircases. As my friend Keith said, only one small problem – there’s only good weather for 2 months of the year, and the rest of the time, you’re slogging groceries up steep winding stairs coated by ice and snow.

Speaking of Keith – we went to his place for dinner. In 1970, when I was 19 and he was 25, I fell desperately in love with Keith at the Neptune Theatre, where I was working backstage and he was a director. We have not seen each other since that summer. And now, his voice and energy and passion are just the same, just as mesmerizing, only his body is not – he has been battered by a neurological condition the doctors have been unable to name and can hardly walk – and yet he is still a gourmet cook with a huge appetite for life, art, food, travel. His work – directing new opera – takes him all over the world; in the months upcoming, to an island off the coast of Newfoundland and to Wales and Sweden. I can’t imagine how he travels, but he does. We sat in his beautiful garden – he also does the gardening – catching up, and then we helped him finish the cooking of a superb gourmet meal; he has arranged his kitchen so everything is within reach, even when he’s sitting on his walker.

He’s an extraordinary, rare man. I’m thrilled to find him again.

That’s all for now – it’s much later, tennis ended, and we all watched a 2-hour PBS special on Carol Burnett, very funny and moving, and now it’s late and the brain has seized up again. A great way to end the day, with that rubber face.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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