I'm not bräve, just naïve...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Behind closed doors

On Saturday night Ulli and I took our first dip into the Montréal Fringe Festival with the opening night of You Like It at Club Lambi on St. Laurent. We can't deny our close links to certain members of the company that has produced the show, but I encourage you to go out of your way to go and see the show. It'll be in Montréal until the end of the week, and then heads south in this or maybe a slightly evolved form to the Toronto Fringe in August. I won't attempt to summarise or review the show here, but it's a tightly improvised and unscripted work that started with Shakespeare's As You Like It and finished up with a piece that teases you with amusing and touching interweaving stories gender and identity.

After the show (and a quick plate or two of poooo-tine) we headed to the after show party. It was rude not to, since it was being held in an apartment two doors from our own. We went to congratulate the cast and crew, enjoy some sangria (although yours truly had to refrain because of the continued medication...) and, most importantly, to peak around one of our neighbours apartments.

The apartment itself was slightly smaller than 'ours', and also much more sparsely furnished. White walls reflected more light, yet somehow made the place feel smaller. It was also a 'reverse' of our pad, with the rooms arranged in a reflected plan. Ulli says she prefered 'our' place. I said I wasn't sure, feeling rather jealous of the blank walls that I could imagine painting and decorating to my own personal specification.

The next afternoon, I walked down to the Biblioteque National to browse and blog without wires. On my return to avenue du Mont Royal, the sun had come out and the street was packed. The 'Nuit Blanche' festival (see photo below), in which artists are assigned four square meter blocks of the street to paint on, had been a bit of wash out this year. Rain fell both during and after the nocturnal painting session on Thursday night, and when the sun rose the next morning virtually all the paintings had been smudged and blurred by the water. It continued to rain for most of the weekend, also dampening the atmosphere between the tents which extended the noisy and intimidating reach of the street's trendier clothes shops. But on Sunday afternoon the sun was shining down, and people were out in throngs along the temporarily traffic free street. Just a few doors before I reached our apartment, I noticed that an artist had opened up their front door for an open studio event.

So naturally, I had to go and have a little look...

I wasn't drawn to any of the paintings, and while some of the pencil drawings were amusing, nothing grabbed my heart's lust. But of course, I was more interested in the apartment. Poking my head through doorways, eyeing up the long kitchen and imagining what furniture occupies the spaces when the place isn't converted for use as a gallery.

I trotted back down the stairs (past a hideous internal wall of bricks) and back out into the street. In one weekend I've managed to sandwich 'our' apartment with visits to two of our mysterious and rarely seen neighbours. We only expose ourselves as residents when we slip in and out of the heavy front door (closing it carefully behind us so as not to break any more of Sylvie's pot plants), so we don't often see our neighbours. On the one hand, I love this place because we are so central, right on the busiest street of the Plateau, with everything our hearts could desire just a few steps away. But then it's also comforting to climb the stairs, unlock the door, and retreat to our private balcony, warmed by the sun and insulated from the city by two storeys and a quiet ruelle behind our building. And just sometimes, it's fun to sit out and imagine our neighbours, who probably feel just the same, but whose paths never cross with ours.


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