A Fibromite’s Plan for Montreal

Your pulse races, your heart thumps, you fear you just might burst out of your skin in excitement. After all, you’ve just scored a huge deal on airplane tickets to a place you’ve always wanted to visit. It’s that first blush of new love when everything seems possible.

Until a bitter dose of reality.

I have just purchased plane tickets to Montreal, an enticing and lethal mix of Old World Europe and New World energy, full of cobblestone streets, historic architecture, remnants of our colonial past, vibrant immigrant communities, bustling cafes, and endless bike trails through lush parks. One of the continent’s oldest cities where the mother tongue is French and only one hour ahead of where I currently live, I have always yearned to dive into Montreal.

And now – finally! – my plane tickets are in hand. I will see, smell, touch, hear, and taste it all! After all, I have a full week, right? And Quebec City, just as historic and fascinating, is only a three-hour train ride away, right? And how about that monastery just outside the city? And the mountains beckoning my hibernating hiking boots? And….

Wait. Stop. Breathe.

Did I forget my new paradigm?

Sometimes, in the rushing initial excitement of planning a new trip, I actually forget the ruling truth of my life.

I have fibromyalgia. I cannot possibly see and do everything in such a short trip. I would flare out and be stuck in bed 24 hours into my vacation. I must pace myself and take time to absorb the world around me as my body catches up with my heart.

Did I not just vow to accept my new travel paradigm? To slow down, savor and really get to know the community before me, not just race through in a superficial skimming of must-see sites? I want to walk, shop, cook, smell, and live where my feet trod, meeting local people and observing everything through their eyes.

And so I toss my ever-growing list of sightseeing out and start over.

Scratch anywhere I cannot reach without a car. After all, I don’t drive.

Scratch Quebec City. In a rushed itinerary, I will only be able to see the city in one day, and such a storied, historic city as Quebec deserves so much more. I must remember I cannot possibly see and do it all in one trip. I will be back. Quebec City will have to wait for another time when I can focus solely on her.

No, this trip will be all about Montreal herself. One street, one cafe, one neighborhood at a time. My goal is to breathe her in, slowly and luxuriously until I am so intoxicated, I forget my “must-see” list, forget about checking off sites like chores, and allow myself to be absorbed, wholly and completely, by the city’s spirit.

Maybe there’s a silver lining to fibromyalgia after all.


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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