|Above: postcard from original Expo 67 in Montreal. Below: start of 2012 Oasis Rock n Roll Montreal Marathon & 1/2 Marathon|
Last weekend I went to Montreal. The decision was made a year earlier, when I spent barely one day in Montreal during the Star Mega Do 3 trip, and knew that I had to return for a longer visit. And so, back then, I decided that I would run the Montreal Marathon this year. Over the months, I signed up, and was pleased to learn that another good friend also wanted to make this trip.
Two days before I left for this trip, I found two Canadian $10 bills on a sidewalk in New York City. If you know me you wouldn’t be surprised: strange things like this always happen to me.
I flew from LGA to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) on an American Airlines/ American Eagle flight.
|American Eagle Embraer Jet|
I purchased the flight with miles, or more correctly 9,000 British Airways’ Avios plus approximately $50 in taxes.
Travel around Montreal was easy.
When I arrived at YUL, I purchased a three day pass for the Montreal transit system (including both the buses and the Metro) for CAN $16. There’s a very good public express bus (aptly called the “747”) which runs frequently and makes about 10 downtown (oops, I mean Centre Ville) stops, mainly along Boulevard Rene Levesque, and stop 7 is about one street from the Hyatt Regency Montreal.
A strike at the Hyatt had just ended a week before, and they were still working on getting back up to speed. Still… I am always happy to stay at Hyatt Hotels – I was pleased with the Suite they gave us and warmed by the congeniality of Hyatt’s personnel. The Regency Club lounge was lovely, and Karina who worked there, was lovely and helpful.
As I mentioned, I participated in the Marathon (there was also a half marathon and races of various other distances). As is often the case with Rock n Roll sponsored races (especially inaugural Rock n Roll races), the organization isn’t that great, especially at the start (getting thousands of people to the top of the Jacques Cartier Bridge proved difficult) (note: it took me nearly 40 minutes after the gun went off to actually cross the start line). Once the race was underway, the course was not too crowded (I am fearful of being tripped in large races), the volunteers were helpful and the water stops plentiful. In addition, there was some very good live music along the way.
|If you haven’t guessed, the official race shirts were neon green|
My gripe with the course: after the first 6 miles or so, with the exception of a short run through the Old Port, the rest of the course was overly circuitous – I found that we were just going up and down parallel residential blocks rather than “touring” the sights of Montreal.
What overwhelmed me most during the run were the memories that came charging at me during the early miles. Among other things during the start of the event, we were on an island – there was an amusement park, and a big sphere, a Nascar type course and a casino. As we ran past the sphere and the buildings in these first few miles, I noticed each was called a “Pavilion.”
And then it came to me: it dawned on me that this was the site of the Montreal World’s Fair, known as Expo 67 (officially titled the 1967 International and Universal Exposition)! My parents had taken the entire family to Montreal for a family trip a year or two after 1967 – when we visited a good deal of the exhibits and pavilions were still intact.
|Post Card from the original expo 67 showing the US Pavilion|
Suddenly, I was transformed. I was moving back and forth in time and thoughts. And that is when I started pondering the issue of running and travel and memories, something that has been circling my thoughts for the past week.
This is my theorem: Sometimes running a marathon makes memories. Sometimes it elicits memories.
So, during the running of this marathon, for a while I was not thinking of the “here and then,” (i.e., what was currently going on around me), but, instead I was thinking of the experiences I shared with my parents and sisters (my brother wasn’t born yet) on that trip so many years ago. I remembered the pavilions. I remembered the sphere (but did not remember that the sphere was the U.S. Pavilion), I remembered the U.S.S.R. pavilion, and the propaganda-filled brochures they gave us and which my sisters and I saved. I remembered my mother speaking french. I remembered the some of the amusement rides. I remembered a blue and white checkered napkin I took from a restaurant (I still have that napkin!).
Memories. I wanted to call my family, to share my awakened memories.
but wait – I needed to ask myself: was it the running OR was it the travel that elicited/made the memories?
This is my theorem -adjusted: Sometimes running and/or traveling makes memories and sometimes running and/or traveling elicits memories.
Maybe this is why I like to travel. Maybe memories, especially ‘elicited’ or even “recalled” memories (such as when a street in one city reminded me of another place or time), are moments (or “things”?) that we all cherish, particularly when it pertains to something that we feel, at its core, is part of our fabric. For me, I see memories (or experiences that remind me of other events or places I’ve visited) from running and also from traveling – two passions of mine.
but wait – Don’t people have comparable experiences beyond running and travel?
This is my theorem -adjusted again: Sometimes doing what we find ourselves passionate about makes memories and sometimes it elicits memories.
Memories elicited and memories made aren’t limited to running and travel. It must be that the same process can occur in other realms – depending on what your passion is. If you love reading, then the phrases and pictures portrayed in the words may take you someplace new, or they may bring you back to somewhere you’ve been. If you are a musician, then each stanza, each chord, each tone, can propel you forward, or bring you back. If you are an artist, each color, each vision, brings you places. I could go on. (but I’ll spare you… )
And, of course its not as simplistic as I portray; rather, its all layered. So that each time we go back, we take that memory (of, for example my visit to Expo 67 with my family) and add a new dimension, which includes the 2012 visit to Montreal, the friends I traveled with, my feeble but earnest attempts to speak in french, and the streets the marathon and my legs took me down.
And with that, I will continue to ponder and reflect, and to share some of my memories with you. .
|a pretty glimpse of Montreal from one of the bridges on the course|
J’ai fini le marathon
|Breakfast the next day at the Regency Club Dining Room (YES, running has its rewards!!)|
|Regency Club Dining Room|