print by the big harumph
grad school sucks a lot, even if you wanna be there. moving to a country where it feels like no one understands you sucks a lot too. living in extreme heat and extreme cold when you're used to pretty moderate and consistent temperatures sucks good too. holy heck! i met luis under these three circumstances. he'd moved from brazil to montreal to go to graduate school. the areas of brazil he lived in previously all had moderate, fairly consistent temperatures and weather. his home country of course included his home culture, whereas montreal, obviously, did not. and i already said he'd moved to montreal for graduate school. so, he moved to montreal for triple suckness. that sucks a lot. on my side, i'd moved from areas of the united states that had far milder temperatures too, and even if i am from alaska originally, the winters there are NOT as bad as in montreal, and we just NEVER get that kind of humid-hell-heat. plus, as the post-palin world now knows a little too well, alaska's ideals are radically different from anywhere else. i'd made a point of expanding my interests since my life in that state, and as much as i loved montreal, i still found myself outside the norm there.
in the midst of the triple suckness though, somehow, luis and i found kindred spirits in each other. it turned out by simple luck of the draw he moved to my side of town (the east side), and as a result our friendship began by my offering him rides across town to his home. inevitably each ride home would include me suddenly realizing we had enough time for a quick stop and so i'd excitedly ask if he'd mind making a quick stop for something fabulous. it turned out luis was always wonderfully game to try something fabulous. and so together we got to taste our way around the city big-eyed savoring all kinds of yummies from local chocolates, wonderful croissants, one of a kind Hungarian apertifs, rose', macaron, and loads of other treats like Portuguese burgers, Spanish meats, and champagne after champagne after champagne.
my favorite things include intelligent conversation, enthusiastic appreciation of flavors with substance and elegance, passionate pursuit of leisure in proximity to hard work, and willingness to befriend a friend. luis was a treasure for these things during my life in montreal. he proved to be even more of a treasure for these things after my departure as i discovered through the many visits i've had since. prior to each visit luis would have scouted a new something-fabulous for us to savor together. in this way the effort i'd made to introduce the best of montreal to him when he first arrived in the city, he returned to me in multitudes. on top of our ability to happily share in these existentialist delights, luis and i have gotten to share in wicked humor, secret complaining, and long walks about the city. i'm grateful to have someone it feels safe enough to joke irreverently with, and talk through what troubles us or seems unjust within the communities we find ourselves. it's rare to share such luxury with someone in a genuine earnestness to help through listening and understanding.
luis has consistently impressed me too with his ultra sharp mind, his ability to pick up new ways of thought with quick, open-minded ease, and respond in thorough consideration and critique of the ideas almost on the spot. as simple a thing as it might sound, i've also always loved hearing him jump between English, Spanish, Portuguese, and more recently the French he's picked up living in montreal. he reads Latin and Greek too, i might add.
my deepest appreciation for luis, though, is found in his gregarious, deep-tummied laugh. it's one i recognize from those few i've found to have the best humor--a kind of earthy, light-hearted, and naughty rumble from deep in his torso shot gunning through his throat.
on top of all this i count myself especially lucky in that i am the only person, as far as i know, in montreal that he told his actual birthdate too--a day on the calendar i promised him i'd never reveal, even if i make a point of wishing him a happy birth anniversary each year just the same.