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Sense from madness

August 14, 2009

So, back a year ago, when I went to Fayetteville, I couldn’t help but wonder why the place looked so familiar, why I felt so at home there, so much like I was in a place I could have lived in (a feeling I did not have in, say, New Haven). After all, I was in the middle of Arkansas, and nowhere near Québec, and though the geography was a little reminiscent of the Eastern Townships, and my mother insisted the pictures I brought back were reminiscent of Sherbrooke, that wasn’t it – I’ve never even been to Sherbrooke.

The first piece of the puzzle fell in place yesterday afternoon, during a long bike trip – Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The city whose hot air balloon festival I attended every year with my grandparents as a kid – definitely a place that I would have powerful emotional associations with.

The second piece of the puzzle fell in when I discussed the pictures I had taken in Saint-Jean with my mother, and she noted how much they reminded her of Magog…more or less, for the past several years, my favorite town in Québec outside the “home” area.

The third and final piece fell in this morning, when I spent some time staring at the pictures of Saint-Jean, and realized just WHAT they reminded me of, besides Fayetteville – a late XIXth/early XXth century city in terms of architecture, relatively remote from big cities (an hour’s drive from Montreal), definitely a city unto its own. Hosting a Québec-system college (In the Québec system, high school ends a year earlier than in the US, after which college begins, being, normally, a two years thing, after which you go to university for a three-years degree) and an entire faculty of the University of Montreal (Agro-science, including Veterinarian).

Saint-Hyacinthe, to be exact. Where my mother’s best friend has lived for a good two decades (with frequent family visits there as a kid). Where I attended high school. Where I attended college.

Yeah, no wonder I felt like I was in a familiar place.

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