I’ve been back in Toronto for about two weeks now and every day it becomes more evident that I should have done this a long time ago. When I moved out to Montreal, I had all this hope that it was going to be this grand adventure and that I would build this exciting life in a new city, but in reality none of that happened.
I became severely depressed out there, and there were times when even mustering the willpower to perform basic household chores was all I could do, let alone be productive in my career. In retrospect, my decision to move out there was shortsighted. I didn’t think that I would miss anything about Toronto, and I thought that everything would be different. But the grass is always greener, as they say, and to me it certainly did seem that way. Montreal was like The Promised Land, and Toronto was just the same old same old. I needed to spread my wings and that was my way of doing it.
Now that I’ve returned, I feel as though a mountain has been lifted off my back. I’m not constantly battling with the isolation and loneliness I felt back then, and I know that it’s within my ability to find work out here and get out of the freelancing business because Toronto doesn’t have all the ridiculous language laws that Quebec has. I wish they would just get of all those stupid language laws because it’s the single biggest thing driving people away from the city. Quebec’s economy would vastly improve if they stopped forcing businesses to operate in French.
In Montreal, I never truly felt like I belonged there, but in Toronto I’m at home. I decided to move back because I’d had enough of that place and I could not see any real future there even though it is a very lively and interesting place. I had no family out there, and even though I eventually made many new friends I lacked the close relationships that I have in abundance in Toronto. Here I have friends who I’ve known for 10+ years, back in Montreal all my relationships were fairly shallow. I never managed to find a social circle comparable to what I have back here and that’s a large reason why I always felt so hopelessly alone in that city. It’s strange that you can live in a city with over 2 million people and still feel alone. I never want to feel that way again.
Many people get a strong creative vibe when they arrive in Montreal, but for me it was much the opposite. I was stifled. I choked in the airless studio apartment that I lived in. I couldn’t come up with story pitches when once I came up with them all the time. I couldn’t write poems anymore when I used to write them as easily as I breathe. I felt like an outsider everywhere I went because the French have a way of being very exclusive. If you aren’t one of them you never will be. I was a fool to think I could ever build a life there.
Now I live in East Mississauga with my parents (a temporary arrangement), and I feel more creative than I ever did living in Montreal. I go to the park and feel inspired for the first time since I came back from Mexico. I’m writing songs and playing guitar again. In Montreal I picked up the guitar only a few times. It mostly just sat in the corner collecting dust. Somehow, Montreal had the complete opposite effect on me than it has on most other people, and overall, things really aren’t much different there anyway. It’s more or less just like Toronto only you can buy beer at convenience stores, rent is cheap, and people speak French (but they won’t answer to you in French unless you speak it perfectly. This makes Montreal a shitty place to learn the language).
I can say that I’m bilingual now, although not at a native fluency level, but I can at least add that to my resume, so my time in Montreal wasn’t a total waste. It built character that much I can say for sure. Now that I’m back home I can finally get out of the eternal rut that I was in and move on with my life. In Montreal I was going nowhere.