My work here is done (part one)
I returned home last night through stifling humidity. The artificial environment of my office carries me through the day in a state of suspended animation, insulated from any natural environmental or climatic variety. Stepping out onto the pavement through the underground car park (it is assumed that if you work in this building you arrive by car, probably an air conditioned one) the eight hours of climatised enclosure are rapidly made up for with a pounding cloud of hot, damp air. By the time I got home, I was dripping with sweat, embarassed to be wearing light coloured trousers that were clinging to my legs.
Unable to face physical exersion of any kind, I skipped making my own dinner and ate downstairs in the bustling Mont Royal Hot Dog. A found a seat by a vast open window that looked onto a broad pavement, occupied by outdoor tables with parasols that advertised beer and customers who advertised the food. Throughout the long, dark, cold days of winter (I've eaten poutine in this joint when it's been -25 C) these enormous floor to ceiling windows have reassured me. They're insulated enough to keep the restaurant warm in the winter, yet act as a reminder that as soon as it becomes warm enough, the window will be wound up and into the ceiling like a garage door and the outside will be allowed back in. In fact these up-and-over windows seem to be the must-have feature of any self-respecting Plateau bar.
After eating a big plate of fries and a stacked club sandwich, I climbed the stairs to the apartment. Tonight is the night I have to begin packing. I'm not returning to England for another six weeks, but with the recent return of this apartment's rightful occupant, my days as a house and cat sitter are over. I believe I may have racked up the longest ever stay through the Hospitality Club: it's been more than ten months since I hauled by suitcase and backpack up the stairs to this apartment. Now I'm dusting them down, and filling them with clothes once more. As I cleared out my wardrobe and drawers, Toast (the youngest and most inquisitive of my four feline housemates) jumped onto the bed and started sniffing around and getting inside plastic bags. She investigated an interestingly Toast-sized space in my suitcase, but I decided against taking her with me. She looked at me in the eye, and mee-owed in a voice I haven't heard before. I don't doubt she is as intelligent, if not more intelligent than me. Maybe she knows I will miss her late night company and the affectionate licks my arms receive when they are above the sheets.
I did as much packing as I could, and then retired to the balcony. Charlotte joined me for a glass of white wine, before popping out with Maya to visit friends. I sat alone on the balcony watching occasional flashes of lightning strike silently between clouds high above and to the north-west. No storm showed up, leaving me as sweaty as ever when I went to bed.