Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Breakfast in not-quite-paradise

When you're on the run..
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
So I have this habit that you may find odd: I shoot pictures of my food.

Please bear in mind I'm not a professional Instagram photographer and I don't spend hours at restaurants choreographing the quintessential gastronomic photoshoot. I don't do this every day. Rather, I shoot my meals typically when I'm travelling. Or when I'm stressed. Which usually happens when I'm travelling. Which is often these days.

The near-endless shuttle run back to Montreal that we've been on these past few months has given me ample opportunity to practice this weird photographic ritual. Typically, we grab coffee and a quick bite of breakfast at the coffee shop in the hospital's ground floor atrium. It's conveniently located as we get off the elevator from the underground parking lot, a final oasis of normalcy before we head upstairs into the decidedly unknown.

It's a Second Cup - sort of like an all-Canadian wannabe-Starbucks without the attitude - which means it's something we actually enjoy. Which is crucial when your life feels like a rusted Belmont Park roller coaster with Mario Andretti at the controls: You take your small pleasures wherever you can find them, and you do your best to control those small moments.

I've always been a somewhat slow eater, so much so that my late mother-in-law had to rewrite their family's decades-old rules of kitchen-table engagement (chiefly, no clearing till everyone finished a course) when Debbie and I got serious enough that she started taking me home for dinner. So I tend to linger over my on-the-run breakfast both as a reflection of who I am, and a coping mechanism with all of this. But before I tuck in, I feel this strange need to record it. As if I don't want to forget what we ate along the way, at each stage of this awful journey.

I end up with the weirdest photo roll, strange lame-foodie pics interspersed among the wheelchairs, corridors, stairwells, and tiny details that define this surreal world-within-a-world.

But weird is comforting. It's a tiny sliver of home. An anchor, of sorts. A reminder of what it would feel like if we were at home having breakfast in our kitchen, with the kids running down their day's schedule and our crazy dog dropping her ball at our feet while the local radio station plays brightly in the background. Weird reminds me why we're here, where we come from, and how all of these unexplainable details somehow connect up, somehow led us to this moment, in this place, on this day. Weird pulls me back from that overwhelming feeling of powerlessness that might otherwise freeze me in place. I hope weird helps my wife, too.

Thankfully today there is no paralysis. Because we've got each other, good coffee, a homey-tasting treat to munch on, and photos to match.

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