Weather and Acceptance: A Montreal Monday Tale

by Elisabeth

My zen alarm clock chimes at 6:30am. It does not sound zen at all. It is more like a death knell, even though it’s actually the opposite. While the piercing head pain that I get when I cough is much duller than yesterday, it still hurts. I waffle between cursing this cold and worrying about the state of my kidney/liver/immune system. How futile. Why couldn’t I have worried about these things during my 20’s? Or during the holidays?

I have risen too late to make the obligatory “green juice” for my cleanse which officially starts in a few days. I have risen too late to do much but get ready and go to work. There is enough time to pet my cat, Phyllis, on the stomach for a quick moment seeing as she’s draped herself on our linoleum with her stomach exposed. I forget to enjoy this moment fully and get back to contact lens/teeth brushing/ clothes choosing. Nick said it was supposed to go up to 5 degrees, so still need winter boots, pants, but I’ll wear the jacket instead of the coat.

I tackle my face with moisturizer and the quickest makeup I can do. But my hair looks…really bad. It’s dry from all the blonde dyes from the beautiful-hair summer, but now it’s brown and looks like an unruly mess of seaweed. I decide to put it back in two little buns. At least it will look tidy.

Grabbing my messenger bag I walk to the door and look out. It’s raining. Not snow-rain, but full-on rain. How the $%*& am I supposed to dress for that? I grab an umbrella, and step out onto the substance formerly known as snow. It’s now thick, white ice with puddles all over it. I feel like Sarah, in the movie Labyrinth, when she’s forced to babysit her little brother, Toby.

It’s not fair!

I’m running late already, my boots are slipping on the ice and there is no option but to walk in the centre of the street. Eventually I get to the metro station, sweating profusely from the coat I wore. It’s too hot and also I’ve been taking these herbal supplements to clean out my kidneys, or at least I’m hoping that’s what’s going on.

As the metro pulls up to Vendome station, I notice the Metrovision report- 35,000 without power in Newfoundland. This sobering thought, followed by the report of a car accident somewhere reminds me that I should be grateful. That I am grateful. But I’m still grumpy.

*     *    *

I’m in the office sipping green tea (as coffee is now off limits) at about 11:30 am. The fire alarm goes off. I consider changing into my snow boots, but my manager is close and rushing us out. Grabbing my phone, purse, and jacket, I head downstairs with everyone else. It is substantially colder than earlier, and I can see my breath. Our office is situated on a busy four lane boulevard and cars race by. I can smell gasoline and it’s not helping my headache.

I decide to occupy myself by checking my phone. Two texts from Nick! They read:

“Hey, I need you to the lock the door when u leave the house. The door was wide open when I woke up. Or at least try to remember to lock it.”

I feel persecuted and blamed by this reasonable request. I want to burst into tears but I’m sandwiched in the crowd of co-workers. We wait for 30 minutes while four fire trucks come. I don’t even bother to try to check out any of the firemen, the inconvenience is eating into our lunch break.

I go for a walk, and finally decide to buy lunch at the Caribbean place near our office. But when I go to pay, their machine isn’t working, I don’t have any cash.

*    *    *

As I walk through the office, for tea, or to the photocopier, I overhear bits of conversation.

“Oh my GOD, it was, like, a SHEET of ice…”

“It was SO hard to get them to the car this morning…”

Stuff like that. A big Canadian adventure. Why does it take us by surprise every time? By the time I’m leaving work my weird sweats have died down, but my skin is all red and lumpy and my hair looks worse than it did this morning. Everyone’s talking about how cold it’s supposed to get- how cold it already is outside- as they descend the stairs to the parking lot. No one is talking about the reason the fire alarm went off. I still have no idea.

It’s now -12 plus wind chill. I realize that I forgot my toque. As I amble home, I do not have the energy to brace myself for what follows. I accept that people will bump into me as they pass me on the sidewalk because they don’t understand the unspoken rules of walking. I accept that it will be too cold on my head and ears. The wind will rip through my jacket. And so it goes. But I don’t fight it.

Even though it’s my last Montreal winter, as I’m leaving the metro, I decide to head to the pharmacy to see if they have any ice crampons for my boots. I think about how for nine years I’ve never managed to buy any. I guess I always expect that they will cost more than I’m willing to pay and how often will I use them? Turns out they are only $11.99 and I buy the last pair in my size.

This simple moment make me feel like acceptance has moved me back into the flow. Once again, things are working out for me and my mood brightens a little bit. Even though I feel mildly headachy, and kinda ugly, there are little moments that I can still salvage from this day. I take the deepest breath that I can muster at this temperature, and walk home.

I get home, and start writing this post about acceptance and flow and all that. Right as I’m finishing, I decide to put the crampons on my boots. Wouldn’t you know it? They don’t fit!