So I drove all night and somewhere in the middle of the night passed right by I-287 which connects I-95 with I-87 to go through northern New York to get to Montreal. I did not just pass it, I passed it and kept going. About the time I hit Connecticut I knew I had gone wrong and I was going to have to call for help. I was freaking out a bit and didn't have even a small inclination to turn back. I called my mom. That night she was dispatching for 911 and still working for the city system. This worked to my advantage for many reasons, she's very experienced at guiding people out of being lost and she had immediate access to Google and Yahoo maps. . .she let me to I-90 and back up to I-87, but this error added a good three hours to my 12 hour planned journey which I had begun tired.
I didn't care, I was high on thought. I had to see M. I knew that things would be better when I got there. I fantasized what his reaction would be. I imagined it would be the same or bigger than the other surprises I had given him. He seemed to love surprises. His childhood had been pretty crappy (crappier than I even knew at the time) and the notion that someone cared so much about him that they spent all this time surprising him and doing things just for him seemed to please him immensely. I remembered how caring he had been when I had to leave him at the airport and had "Odie" with me on my lap. As I got more sleepy I would hold onto him and pet his head. Yes, I petted the fake dog's head.
I stopped in northern New York and ate some breakfast, talked to my parents and headed into Canada. It was a pretty fast trip through customs. The officer seemed very surprised and confused as to why someone would drive the 725 miles to Canada, and hadn't seen a plate from my state in apparently quite a while. For some reason this made me proud.
Now remember, M hadn't given me his address, I had looked it up online. He also hadn't given me directions and the signs when you hit Montreal are all in French. I do not speak French and spent about an hour driving and re-driving this horrible loop because I couldn't decipher the arrows on the confusing as crap sign. The way I finally knew I was in the right place is that M lived right across the street from the mosque. I spotted the minarets from his side street. I parked the car at just before 2:00 pm. I had been driving since around 9:00 the previous night. I must have looked half crazy when I stepped out of my Ford Contour.
I saw three apartment buildings and walked to the one with M's address number on it. Now the problem: These were apartment buildings. For some reason this had never occurred to me. It did not occur to me that I would have to figure out an apartment number, I figured the hard part was behind me. There were families outside playing and there was a couple on the balcony of the apartment building next to M's. I used my cell phone to call M's number figuring I could just ask the apartment number and walk to it still talking to him. No answer. I called three or four times, but knew that someone had to be on the phone and that his "roomie" never answered the call waiting and would spend hours on the phone. I started to get upset. I was tired and had no idea how to get to a hotel, and just wanted to sleep. I was pacing now on the sidewalk in front of the apartments between a mosque and an all Pakistani neighborhood. It didn't occur to me at the time how out of place the white girl in jeans and a ponytail must have looked, pacing up and down the street on about 27 hours straight of no sleep.
The man on the balcony yelled out to me. There were two women standing with him who looked like they were both serving him. There was a little girl sitting at his feet and they were holding a little infant. When he addressed me I thought that each of the women would stare a dagger straight through me.
"Hey," he got my attention, "are you looking for M?"
I was astonished. He used M's first name, and I always called him by his technical surname, so it took me a minute to figure out we were talking about the same person. "Yes," I said.
"Go on in, you have the right place," he said.
"I don't know the apartment,"
"Oh, it's the first one, go on in." he replied.
It took me a few steps to realize that I had never met this man, and I had no idea how he would know I was looking for M. Do all the white girls look for M??? I turned back around, "How did you know I was looking for M?"
"Oh, he showed me your picture. I knew it was you."
I melted. I thanked him and turned smiling. M was in apartment 1.