I arrived in Montreal from warm and sunny Australia a month ago, “worst time of the year” they said. “You'll freeze,” they said.
That was not the worst of my fears.
We found a place, our new home.
The first morning I went out and saw a grey pigeon perched on the rail of the balcony of the block next door. It watched me as I went down the winding, twisting stairs trying not to break my neck on the icy steps.
“I will have to find a job, of course, but will I be too old? Or too… Spanish? Do people here like Spaniards? I will have to learn to drive on the other side of the road, again. How long will it take me to familiarize myself with the streets, will I be very stressed if I get lost?”
The day after there were two pigeons, one of them saw me and took flight immediately, ignoring me. The second one, the same as the day before, stood there, staring at me.
“I will have to make new friends. I will love them and then will eventually have to say goodbye sometime, again, as I did the others. And then I’ll miss them.”
The day after, the temperature was minus 36 degrees. I went out and the pigeon was there still watching me, defiant, telling me with its imperturbability that it would not work, that I wouldn't find warmth again, that there wouldn't be friends or colleagues, and that I’d always be a stranger here.
I looked at it and thought “maybe I should stay in. It’s really cold. Maybe it was not a good idea to come here at all”.
I wrapped myself up in warm clothes and went out anyway. I saw the damned pigeon watching me again with its hatred and its murderous eyes. I decidedly ran down the stairs with courage in my heart, walked the few steps separating my block from the neighbour’s, looked up, took a deep breath and climbed the snow-covered steps of the old building.
And there she was, still staring; cold, grey and petrified as old lava.