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City of Samba

I shut my eyes to brush through my memories for warmth and sunny beaches as a pair of red, shiny slippers shelters my feet. As the slippers clack, clack, clack, I wishfully whisper: “there’s no place like home; there’s no place like home; there’s no place like home.” But that won’t get me all the way back to Rio; it won’t even get me right over there in Kansas.
There’s no place like home. But I cherish the Scarecrows, Tinmen, and Lions I’ve befriended here in Montreal.
The moment I hop off 24-O and turn left on Kensington Avenue, I put bonjour hi on pause to make way for some feijoada and bossa nova on a -30°C-winter Montreal. In front of me I see a familiar three-story house. A numbing-cold, striking-white winter is suddenly eased on this Sunday evening as I step onto its porch. I already know what it holds inside: João Gilberto singing about a certain girl of Ipanema, português, Chico Buarque, caipirinha, enraged discussions about our former presidents, more caipirinha. Saudade. Saudade that follows the yellow brick road—not in search of any wizard, but of meaning. Família.
As I shut the wooden door behind me, I remove my once-upon-a-time white boots, which are now happily-ever-after muddy brown. But as yucky as they are, the never-coming-off-again stains are the foundation of my Montreal. With my clean, red and green reindeers socks, I let myself into a cozy living room, packed with Brazilians. We are only eight, and the crammed living room could fit in about another twenty people, but the entire place has suddenly become small and welcoming. It has become home.
Lunch is served. The table offers feijoada to feed our hungry bellies, the vinyl plays bossa nova to hydrate our thirsty ears, the wall in front of me holds oh-so-proudly a picture of Sugar Loaf to moisten our eyes, and Portuguese gives Franglais a rest in order to enrich our yearning hearts. Suddenly, this friendly group gathered on a grimy Sunday makes it all okay. It’s still a snowy, -30°C-winter in Montreal. But somehow I no longer need any fireplace to melt my homesickness. Bonjour hi does not exclude feijoada and bossa nova. As família, they can all coexist. Play.

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