You’d think that after three major life moves (Chambana, Pittsburgh, here — okay, that’s probably not all that much), I’d have figured out how to “get in” to a city as fast as possible. Then again, as Emily (one of my grad students) told me, it takes three years to really live in a place. To that end, this summer is quickly becoming my “remedial consumerism” summer. Let’s face it. For many middle class people such as myself, a good many of the pleasures of living in a large city are consumerist in nature. It’s about being able to get Really Nice Stuff or just Stuff That Is Particularly To My Liking. So I’ve been learning:
–where to go for good ice cream (not soft serve!)
–where to buy clothes (I shop at the Big and Tall store)
–where to buy shoes (same problem)
–where to buy CDs
–which kitchen store has the really disturbingly nice gadgets
–which stores have the best (or best deals on) special ingredients and foods, like porcini mushrooms, tsaziki sauce, and mock duck.
I mean, shoes, CDs, ice cream and clothing are available all over the city, but that’s the point: it’s a matter of knowing WHERE to go, at least to suit my own tastes.
Carrie and I are also taking some time to explore neighborhoods that we wouldn’t normally go to. Last weekend was Ahunsic, this weekend was Verdun. Ahuntsic was, I’m told, “the next big thing” before NDG became the “next big thing” in real estate. It is very subruban-feeling in that the streets are wider, the housing newer, and there are little strip malls here and there, but it still feels very Montreal. Most structures are multifamily dwellings (no cottages, just duplexes or more), and when we drove by a park, we saw people playing cricket, not baseball. Verdun, meanwhile, seems like a bit of an extension of St. Henry. It’s working class like our neighborhood is working class, though the business district seems a little more happening. It’s also surprisingly close to downtown. Here I thought it was way far out.