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Travelogue F3

July 1, 2015

What is one to do when faced with helping a person in an utterly improbable situation? Oscillate between credulity and disbeliefs, acting and walking away? For the young man with a broken down car, no money, an unusable bankcard, neither friends nor family at hand, in need of a shower, and cut off due to the lack of a phone, does one hem and haw and cycle through emotions in this way? Does one listen to the plight and repeatedly plea helplessness and confusion before the situation and yet, in the end, walk the fellow to an ATM for his bus fare? Does one leave him before a hotel, promising to return and then, albeit unintentionally, slip out a back door into an alley to round the corner and watch until, frustrated, the man leaves, so great is one’s inability to grasp the situation? At what point does the wildly improbable become probable and the strangely probable again improbable through the perfect alignment of minute events? Can one truly walk away? For such is what I did.

Perhaps a third party might have found a reflection of the above in the rat tunnels which, in a nearby park, run from a drainage grate to the waste bin yonder, and where I watched a rat make endless circuits first above and then below the ground. The park itself showed signs of decay, the contemporary metal sculpture at its center sheltering both gulls and human filth from the elements. The way in which these disparate elements run into one another recalls at the level of the small just how Montréal moves from strip malls and unending highways to industrial waste and unfinished entry ramps to the mix of brick and cut-stone residences with stoops common to the cities of the northeastern United States and spans each as naturally as the last. Indeed, in it, my eyes find something like the conjugation of Boston, Providence and New York. But what is to say that these cities are not simply the unpacking of the complex that is Montréal, concomitant formations?

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