City of Ice
I am always told that I walk like I’m on a mission: I always have somewhere to go, and I don’t pause to look around me very often. This is probably the result of living in the middle of a busy city which is excruciatingly cold for at least six months out of the year. When it is -40 degrees Celsius outside, nobody wants to stop and make small talk with strangers, believe me. Sometimes though, very rarely, I cross paths with an individual that makes me halt. I slow down and observe, and I choose to extend a hand and connect with a fellow human being. Such encounters help me remember what it’s like to fall in love. Sometimes, it is a child running around a park with his father. I stop for five minutes and hold out my heart on my sleeve because such a display of unmediated fun is extremely rare in the city of snow. Other times, it may be an old woman begging for change. People like her usually have a strained look on their faces that makes me stop, re-route, purchase a meal, share it, and head on my way. Most rarely, I see a different sort of face: the type that forces my heart to skip a pulse. I want to embrace that person. I want him to know that somebody cares. I want to love him. This is the strangest type of encounter, because it suddenly becomes painfully personal. It’s easy to keep walking, and to ignore the feeling. Extending a hand to give of my own self feels most risky and frightening. It’s easier to be an ice queen in the frozen city.
Today, I walked through the city for the sake of walking. I chose to see everything that is usually an ordinary backdrop to my ordinary life as though I was seeing it for the first time. The architecture here is most stunning: you’ll be met with a medley of modern corporate buildings sharing ground with historic monuments, up to three hundred years old. You’ll see crowds of business men in fancy suits running past old Churches that they’ve never entered, past gardens sprinkled with rugged youth dressed in tattered clothing and yearning for new beginnings. You’ll see human constructions sprouting out of God-given natural havens, clubs lining the shore of the St. Lawrence river, cyclists swerving through intersections rich with human traffic. It is a beautiful city, right out of a movie scene: the perfect place to fall in love. The perfect place to stop and look, connect, breathe; yet most of us are running. Most of us walk without looking left or right, speeding towards our obligations. I looked up at the sky scrapers that block the view of the mountains; I shuddered and sped through the cold as I giggled. Yes, it is easier to be an ice queen in the city of ice; but I’d like to stop once in a while. I’d like to stop and embrace it. It is often worth the cold.