One of the holiday-est things about my holiday is the fact that I’ve taken a backseat from thinking and planning activities. My lovely brother has put a lot of thought and energy into a plan of activities for the week that isn’t overloaded, but still allows for me to see important things. I’ll confess that I haven’t even done any research into Montreal itself and am just enjoying allowing myself to be led around and shown things.

And it’s amazing the difference it makes to my tiredness levels. Today we walked across the city of Montreal; up the Mount Royal for which the city is named, then out to Leonard Cohen sight-seeing spots and Our Lady of the Harbour. All in all, by the time we returned home, we’d walked nigh on 16km. Which in the heat and humidity of the day felt maybe even more. I am pretty physically tired, and sore too. But I’m not experiencing that drained exhaustion that usually comes with being out and about. I mean, even the hour that I spend shopping each week causes me to need to collapse and need to take a break for a while. I’m pretty thankful for some quiet time to write and read and whatever else now, but I’m not sapped of energy.

I think it’s down to decision-making and responsibility. I didn’t make a single decision today. Not from the time we would leave the house, to where we would eat dinner, to what direction was best to take to get to the next location. I didn’t plan anything, I wasn’t responsible for anything or anyone beyond myself. And it’s a bit like when there’s an oppressive hum in the room that you don’t really notice ’til it stops. It’s kind of amazing really.

It came into stark relief for me when we were taking the train home after our dinner, and I made some casual queries about the plan for the next day and a discussion opened up into options that could be taken if it was raining. My brother (who is the super-organiser of all this wondrous holidaying for me) was like “I can’t even brain right now. Let’s talk tomorrow?” and inside I was “Oh yeah! That’s usually me!”. It was only when I realised that it wasn’t happening to me that I thought about why. And it’s really really draining all that responsibility and all those decisions – each one, no matter how small, from choosing a direction to choosing a restaurant – chip off a tiny bit of energy from a finite (but rechargeable!) ball.

So this may all sound a bit “poor me”ish. And I don’t mean it that way at all. I don’t know that I’m hoping or planning for any change to my regular life from this. It’s interesting to notice the phenomenon. It’s kind of reassuring to realise there’s an actual reason for my tendency to exhaustion during and after excursions, and a valid excuse for some of my snappishness when in such a drained state. I suppose it allows me to forgive myself a little for some of that, because from outside I can see that it is a bit of a load to carry. And even better, it gives an amount of hope for the future, for when my children are more grown – so long as I remember that I can step away from the controls sometimes. I hope I will remember to do that.

Meanwhile, back in Montreal. It’s a beautiful city. A very cityish city that reminds me in parts of Japan, London and Chicago – the other main big cities I’ve been to. Not really New York at all. I don’t know, I guess it’s hard to say what triggers associations when it comes to this stuff. I really enjoyed my walk around, seeing lots of contrasting and interesting architecture and all sorts of different cross-sections of society.

The food we’ve eaten so far has been amazing. Well, any food after a 14km trek in the heat is going to be welcome. I ate beyond satiety but not to the point of pain and illness – despite an inclination, born of historic habit, to do so. I don’t have to worry about flights or children or anything in the next couple of days. I feel relaxed. I feel like I’m on holidays. And it’s really nice to have that.

I do miss my husband and children and I worry that their coping okay and I worry and guilt that I’m not there for whatever reason big or small they might need me for. But I also trust that they are fine, and they are individuals – and so am I. The golden thread is still there, connecting us across the miles. I’m feeding my love back across it and I feel theirs. We make each of ourselves and each of the others stronger this way.