When I had the opportunity to plan a trip to Canada, I was ecstatic. I shared a Google doc with my partner and started researching the different neighborhoods of Montreal, the bus schedule for moving around the province, and of course, the best place to get vegan poutine. We went on our trip in May 2022 and though we both had long been vaccinated, there were still Covid tests to think about for reentering the United States.
All this is to say, while I had in no means scheduled every minute or even day of the trip, I did have a general idea of things we wanted to see and do and how we might best get from spot to spot.
It was an amazing trip. We had so much fun exploring and eating and (somehow already) envisioning our next adventure. When I think back to traveling to Quebec, my mind first jumps to perhaps the most obvious: riding the touristy Ferris Wheel, going to the Grande Bibliothèque (the biggest library in the province), eating all the treats at a vegan French bakery.
But the other morning, I went grocery shopping before work and it was drizzling. I marched back upstairs to grab an umbrella. I keep two umbrellas hanging on a hook by the door—a colorful rainbow umbrella that is the best choice 99% of the time. And a blue and white QUEBEC umbrella that has been on its last leg since it left the store. I took that one.
You see, on our last night in Montreal, it started to drizzle. We could handle a drizzle. As if hearing our challenge, it started to pour. We weren’t exactly close to our accommodations and we hadn’t brought rain gear anyway. That’s how we ended up in a little discount store, looking for parkas, ponchos, or anything that would make us not cringe when we had to put soaked clothing in our suitcases the next morning.
Instead, we found two blue and white QUEBEC umbrellas. We are going to look like such tourists!! I briefly considered the perks of walking in the rain. My partner bought the umbrellas.
And it was this memory that hit me on a quiet, rainy, New York Tuesday. It wasn’t the fact that our Airbnb was a 2 minute walk to the train station (though that certainly was nice at the time) or the fact that our Covid tests and vaccinations were fine for our first international trip since the pandemic began (though that was a relief). It was the memory of being in a new place and dressed in the entirely wrong way for a rain storm. It was the memory of a 99 cent store looking like heaven and that weird panting thing you do when you get to an overhang that shelters you from the rain even though you haven’t been working out?
It was the memory of turning what could be seen as a “not good situation” into something that, eight months later, brought me so much joy reminiscing on.
So today, I’m grateful for the unplanned umbrellas. The things you didn’t know you needed. The memories you didn’t know would mean so much.