Hello Neighbor – Tea and Dreams

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“I’m going to Montreal,” I decided early one morning and proceeded to book travel. Departing from New York’s Penn Station, travel is both accessible and available. A few clicks later and reservation confirmations appeared within my inbox. Done.

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No, the decision described above was neither an example of frivolous American impulse spending nor an elaborate rouse contrived for improving my French. It was action taken, perhaps long overdue, to bring closure to a dream held since childhood. It served as a life lesson: the only restrictions on our dreams are the ones we place ourselves.

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Loving Our Neighbors

Once upon a time, especially in Philadelphia, we knew the families who lived around us and everyone safeguarded the neighborhood block. Very little occurred without a neighbor being aware and then feeling comfortable enough to alert others — parents, police, National Guard — as necessary.

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Our next door neighbor “Miss Dot” was a Montreal native who met and married an American. As my younger brother’s godmother, her family became our family. I recall trying to learn French quickly in preparation for visiting Canadian relatives. Miss Dot’s mother spoke no English; however, she did drink tea daily. Vive le thé!

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Miss Dot kept her Canadian citizenship and often spoke of how one day she would take me to Montreal to see where she grew up. We ladies, mothers and daughters, would travel together via train and make it a grand excursion.

I excitedly looked forward to that trip until Miss Dot became suddenly ill. The day a black silk crêpe wreath draped my neighbor’s door is the day I tucked that childhood dream away.

Nevertheless, dreams either recur or die until we act.

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Walking La Main

Saint-Laurent Boulevard, or La Main, is the perfect scenic walk for becoming acquainted with Montreal’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods. This arch welcoming me to Chinatown reminded me of Philadelphia:

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Then there is a reminder that Montreal is, according to Lonely Planet, the second largest French-speaking city after Paris:

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Each step taken was one out of a dream into a created reality. The more steps taken, the closer the destination becomes. Where do you want to go? Où est le maison du thé, s’il vous plaît (Where is the teahouse please)? Let’s ponder our dreams and next steps over tea, shall we? Cups up!

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