Matt from Montréal

We were camping.

I’m not Canadian, so I can’t say I’m crazy about it. Sure, Canada has amazing national parks, and the Rocky Mountains are vast, but I’ve never been much of a camper. I recall some excitement when camping in the backyard of my old house until the bugs ruined my enjoyment.

 

Then, I never camped again until I went to my first music festival in 2003. Perhaps the worst camping experience ever for many years to come except for once.

 

I got to know a Canadian at the Hurricane Festival in 2005. His name was Matt, and he was from Montréal. I’m sure I’ve mentioned him before in this blog, but I still regret never asking for his contact details. I should’ve said, “Thank you for giving me The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy collection”—which I still haven’t read and, “We should stay in touch!”

 

I remember skimming through the books to see if there was a note of some sort. There was nothing, not even a bookmark. Matt built his tent in less than minutes, saying that there was nothing much to do in Canada except for camping.

 

I’d always hated setting up a tent; it made me feel stupid. I was at the festival with my sister and my goddamn ex. It took us a good 15-20 minutes to build our tent.

 

Matt came alone; we met him on the train, and he’d asked to join us. Even though he hung out with my ex the most, I had a better connection with Matt since we both came to the festival to see Nine Inch Nails.

 

He knew I had relationship problems; even a blind person would’ve been able to tell. Of course, he didn’t want to third-wheel, so he stayed out of it. He and I watched the NIN gig together. I got emotional.

 

I was dying to tell him how unhappy I was with my ex, who, at the time, was probably watching some stupid pop punk band, looking for young girls to exchange contacts with.

 

I wanted to tell Matt how much I hated my ex, that he was fingering me with his filthy fingers while my sister was sleeping next to me.

I didn’t tell him anything. Yet, I think of him often—my first Canadian friend.

 

When I immersed myself in the Canadian culture, I fell in love with hiking as it motivated me mentally and physically. The Rockies had initially called me to visit (just like Muse, Stereophonics, and Feeder had called me to the UK).

 

Anyway, I never got into camping itself. I would do it once (or twice at the most) per year. It bores me.

 

There are Canadians who aren’t fond of camping or winter sports either. So, you can’t say I’m not embracing the culture here. I’m well-adapted. I’m just looking for some space to accommodate my passions and hobbies. But since I got here, I’ve not felt fully understood by the people. It could be my maritime mind? I’ve met tons of Brits, Irish, Germans, Aussies passing through, and strangely enough, I’ve connected with them better.

 

I have gone on many interesting hikes, seeing beautiful views and wildlife. However, there are people to whom the wilderness is more than that. They love the mountain air, the smell of trees, tranquillity, and other nature-related things. But considering everything, I’m not like that. And I can’t pretend.

 

We were camping.

It was my first time going crown land camping, which is basically public land camping where you’re not within the realm of a national park. Therefore, you don’t have to reserve and pay for a specific campsite. And you can find nice hidden spots where you have more privacy.

 

We almost camped on a mountain, but the wind gusts made it impossible to have a fire. And my man can’t camp without campfires. I cared for the fire only to stay warm because it gets cold overnight in the mountains.

 

On our first night, I heard footsteps outside our tent, or I could’ve imagined it. Other times camping, I could’ve sworn that I’d heard bears stalking my tent. (But I was unable to tell if it had been a friend snoring in the other tent.) Nights in the wilderness make me paranoid. (One rule is to never take mushrooms in the wilderness.)

 

Anyway, I couldn’t help but feel empty, passive, and bored when camping. We initially escaped the heat in the city, but camping was the last thing I had in mind. Sitting by the fire, watching stars would’ve struck me as mind-blowing ten years ago or so.

 

Over the years, my excitement for anything has dropped to the degree that really affects the people I’m with, and it plagues me with guilt. And feigning excitement is not in my blood.

Funny as it sounds, these problems started in Canada.

 

The Mercury Rx that started on May 29 has taken a toll. I no longer know where I should be, where I want to be these days. My lack of focus is affecting my speech.

I’m probably just homesick.

 

Thank you, Matt, for watching NIN with me.

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