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St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal on a Friday night

It might be that every 20 year old in the world is beautiful, but somehow Montreal amplifies this. It’s Friday at 12:30 and St. Laurent Boulevard is teeming.  There are line-ups for chocolate shops and nightclubs, girls wearing skirts so tight that their knees seem pinned together stand on three inch heels, shimmering like heat mirages in the distance. A college kid in clothes his mother just bought for him is perfectly buzzed and sweeping into it all. Incredulous and gesturing wildly to his new friends, he’s falling in love with a city, “ All the girls here are so beautiful!!” he shouts, and it’s as if his life is just beginning at this moment.

As Rachelle and I move through the crowds and against the grain, a jittery man with hair that had been cut out of an imposed, institutional necessity rather than the luxury of seduction, falls in step with us. He’s in his late 30s and he’s asking me for money, telling me that he hasn’t been with a woman in five years and wants to take one out. Pleasepleaseplease, he begs. He’s almost hopping with want, his eyes pleading– the unfairness of the universe written deeply into his every gesture.

Walking toward us is a heavy, young man who looks like might work in a video store and along beside him is the most beautiful girl in the world. His body language is a little bit separate, like he knows he’s not supposed to get too close, and there’s a kindness, a sensitivity to the way that his heavy blonde hair falls and curls to his shoulders. He’s shy, you can see that, and suddenly the most beautiful girl in the world grabs him by the hand and pulls him in to her and begins to neck with him right there in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s the final scene in a movie, and time stops as we all fade like ghosts into the background and they glow, the radiant center of this moment that will never be forgotten or repeated.

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