Of all the existential callisthenics we must perform during our tenure of being, remembering, and deciphering the past has always proven to be one of the more compelling, and captivating, for me. It is an exercise that can both, admittedly, infuriate and frustrate, but which ultimately provides the blessed oxygen for the fire with which I propel myself forward. Maybe fire is too extreme, maybe it is like the solar power that I harnesses for my green-machine.
When I remember, I like to remember how lucky I was to spend many years studying and living in Montreal in the early 2000s. During the passage through the identity searching maze of art/music school, and it’s aftermath, living in the music drenched snowed white out of warm Montreal, I met so many people, all those people, too many people! And that is how it is. Maybe I reflect on the past with considerable weight because I have planted myself physically, and mentally, in another land across the world. Maybe I am just a nostalgic sap who loves The Royal Tenenbaums and has read The Unbearable Lightness of Being at least three times. Maybe.
When your head is down, as in making-a-run-for-it, or boxing, who has an influence on you? Will you ever know? Who is important, is everyone important? When you immerse yourself in a world, that simultaneously is with, and without, boundaries, what is timeless and tangible? What is needed to be grabbed on to and tucked away in one’s heart for later recollection and remembrance? I moved to the French quarter of Canada in 1999 to explore what I sensed was a joyous musical avalanche about to happen (I was right), and attend Concordia university. Two of the first people I met in the September semester were Mathieu Charbonneau and Pietro Amato, I liked them alot. They spoke French, and Pietro could grow a beard before anyone knew what a beard was. We laughed alot, and they liked Radiohead and also played jazz (As common as that may seem now, that wasn’t the prevailing attitude in 1999). My first year, I remember with great warmth, playing in the mouldy basement practice rooms of the converted music department. It felt like university should. I knew that. This is what is was supposed to be. Making noise without taste or rules between plexiglass walls. Over the years, we went different ways, but the music community is intimate in Montreal, and I of course would see them from time to time. We shared the stage a few times for some shows. All those people. So many people. Others became superstars.
Around the same time, I had a guitar student, that I shared a brief, but sincere and genuine camaraderie with. She liked my teaching style, and I liked her student style. And she sang like a laser beam of purity. We learnt a couple of Dylan tunes, a major scale or two, and Hallelujah. When she would sing it, and she was just a kid of 13 or 14, I would know, I think, definitively, that this is one of those items to latch onto and take with you into the future. Why do certain abstract emotions appear to be important articles for stuffing into the luggage of time? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a semiotic explanation to follow for the proper packing of memory?
Today, as I performed my detrimental daily task of scouring the Facebook, I encountered a post from this ex-student, and during what I suspect is a cold winter evening in Montreal, she posted a video of Mathieu and Pietro’s band, The Luyas, and it came around and hit me like snowball. Those couple of items, that I tucked away, in my emotional handbag, had come to meet each other, without any of my interference. It is easy to submit, that, of course a 20-something woman is liking a popular band from her hometown, but that is too easy of a getaway plan. How we, or at least I, interpret memories, and their colliding nature with the present is like one of life’s sweet gifts of game. Chess without the mental humiliation.
What does this all mean? I don’t know. But it sure feels good to remember. So here’s to you Emily, Pietro and Mathieu. Thanks for super-colliding.