By: Pierre Gagnon, Montreal resident
As a wave of new lockdowns and curfews hit Canadians once more, I find myself resigned to living, working, and existing solely in my apartment. In the past, I did this voluntarily, because as we all know, it is horrible to be outside. But now that being outdoors is forbidden by the government, I find myself hating the warmth and comfort of my home – and longing for the cold misery of the natural world.
Indeed, there is nothing worse than being outside. But now that the government has told me to stay indoors for my own safety, I long to soak my boots and socks in a river of potent grey city slush as I catch the scent of newly thawed trash and dog shit on the wind. To walk around the same four city blocks with wild abandon and my house keys firmly clenched between my knuckles like I’m wolverine. My unslakable wanderlust cannot be contained. I am the Count of Monte Cristo, and this 1 bedroom + den is my prison.
The government overreach at play here is, frankly, tyranny. My ancestors fought and died for my right to attend as many superspreader events as I pleased, and it is none of Legault’s business if I get sick enough to require government-funded medical attention. Like a child touching his tongue to a freezing pole, I should be able to make my own mistakes and maim whatever part of my body I choose, even if that body part is my lungs and kidneys. I never cared much for the old electronics store and the Popeye’s across the street, but now it pains me to gaze upon them from the safety of my balcony knowing that the oppressive fascists in Ottawa prevent me from going downstairs to look at them a little bit closer.
It was the Counting Crows who first said “don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone” and that sage wisdom stands today. The amount of time I wasted doing cool shit in my apartment, blissfully unaware that I’d soon never be able to go outside and be miserable, cold, and wet, while also possibly contracting a novel virus, is shameful. When I was a more naive man, I saw my home as a comfortable palace, filled with modern treasures and conveniences. Nothing compared to the white-hot adrenaline rush of cancelling plans to work on my 100 baby challenge in the Sims. How many times did I look my own freedom in the eyes and turn it down, knowing there wasn’t going to be convenient parking and Allison from accounting was going to be there? What a fool I was.
Now, I only see what it is missing from my old friend, outdoors: littered cigarette butts. Strangers coughing open-mouthed on a public bus. A dumpster full of chittering, angry raccoons. I won’t be able to see those things again for months. Who knows who I’ll be by then. Perhaps merely a shell of a man who really, really needs a haircut.
Tonight I will seize what I have been missing for the past few days – a nighttime stroll down to a nearby condo construction lot to take in its rugged urban beauty and perhaps visit its palatial port-a-potty. No government will tell me what I cannot do. Fine me if you must, but you cannot keep me away from the hideous, grey, unpleasant urban Canadian winter for any longer. I must be free. I can smell the dog shit on the wind already.