So we're moving. We are part of the horde of yuppies turning Mile End from an old working class portuguese neighbourhood to the new SOHO of Montreal (I've already seen two new baby stores opening up, a sure sign of the apocalypse). I speak partly in jest, as we are literally moving one block north, across the border of avenue Mont-Royal, which puts us at the very bottom of Mile End. The difference is that we are now owners rather than renters.
Among the many positive aspects of this Step to Maturity, the one I am most excited about is the possible opportunity to make this move entirely by hand. I am a bit obsessive about moving and quite good at it and I have found that hiring people can be very hit or miss. Our rent is so cheap that we can afford to keep our current place for a month and take the time to move slowly. I don't have the kind of competent friends here that I would have in the West Coast (the kind of men who synchronize their watches with the CBC time signal when they hear it), so I am kind of on my own. Not that my friends here aren't competent, but I haven't known them long enough to feel comfortable to ask them to help me move. Though one couple already offered to help with painting or borrowing a car, demonstrating the natural generosity and hospitality of the Québécois.
So I've borrowed a hand truck from work and we are slowly going about boxing non-essential things. I spent this weekend rolling them up the block, through blowing snow, carrying them up the stairs, unpacking everything and then taking the empty boxes back home. I was feeling a bit like a crazy person and suffering from the deeply-ingrained bourgeoisie instincts of guilt when not spending money and doing things like everybody else.
On Sunday morning, on my first run, as I was dragging the heavily-laden handtruck over the small mountains of snow between the sidewalk and the street (it's easier to push the handtruck along the cars' wheel tracks which tend to be clear of snow), I encountered a red-cheeked, older man in an old coat and toque with earflaps. He immediately recognized what I was doing and told me that he had once moved with only a hand truck. The distance between his old place and new one was a lot longer than mine and required 10 trips. We walked up the street together, discussing moving and what a privilege it was to be able to take your time when you move. "C'est une grande luxe de démenager tranquillement. Une grande luxe!" When we parted ways, he gave me a pat on the back and I felt like I had received both social acceptance for my behaviour and a small blessing. The guy was old school Montreal and looked a bit like a friendly gnome and I wondered if he hadn't been sent by the city itself as a reminder that despite the yuppies that swarm the Provigo in their new cars, this is still a working man's town at the core and doing things by hand the cheap way is accepted and approved.