Find Little Pieces in Your Life That Bring You Joy — Dominique Dorais
NAME Dominique Dorais
ROLE Senior Account Supervisor
BIRTH CITY Montreal
CITIES LIVED IN New York, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Alicante and Vienna
Why did you move from your home city?
I am originally from Montreal, Canada, but I was always attracted to New York City. I thought it was an impressive way to live. I am very career-driven and I wanted to play with the big sharks. I worked for a couple years both in Montreal and Toronto, and then was transferred to New York.
New York is very entertaining. There’s always something different. You can have access to anything you want, you can be any type of person you want, and have friends from all over the world. I even have a bit from home with my French friends and friends who are from Quebec. Although it’s very expensive to live here, I think it’s worth every penny.
How was it moving to New York?
Moving to New York was a lot! I had been here a million times but I didn’t think it would be that much of a change from Canada. However, Canada is only 36 million people versus 325 million in the U.S. In my stream of business, I went from three-ish priority markets to fifteen.
I had to really jump and it was very hard. I had to go from working in French-English to all English. This was an enormous adjustment. I had to learn how to be punchy and speak the marketing jargon.
Also the less you speak French the more you crave it. It’s a huge part of my identity. It took me six months to a year to really feel comfortable. But now that I am settled I think there’s a lot more to build, not just in New York.
What things make you feel like home here?
I always look for apartments that have an exposed brick wall. To me it’s very important because it reminds me a lot of the Montreal apartments. I have a brick wall and an old crackly wood floor in my NY apartment l and it feels homey.
I also love plants. I put them all over my apartment to bring in liveliness. New York can be so draining and exhausting that it’s important to find little pieces in your life that bring you joy. Things that help you meditate.
Having the right people around you and doing something that you want to do, having a clear objective and a path of where you want to be professionally and personally is important. I totally get the Carpe Diem mentality, but I also think that if we’re here, we’re here for a reason and we should use our time wisely.
What is that one thing here that represents your feeling of belonging?
It might sound counterintuitive but it is the fact that I am a foreigner. There are so many foreigners in New York. I think a lot of people don’t realize how hard we work to come here and getting here is a lot! It’s a reward to get to New York and not a lot of people can make it here for all types of reasons. But we hold ourselves together and are proud to be here. We all bring something different and that’s what makes New York so unique and beautiful. We all feel somewhat at home here.
How do you make yourself comfortable and happy in New York?
One big thing that I like doing is having a glass of wine at cool wine bars or speakeasies where I know the staff very well. New York is so big, you tend to never go to the same place twice. It was hard at first but I made an effort to go to the same places again and again and I became very close with the people working there.
For me, that wine bar felt very homey because in a city of eight million people they remember my name and greet me at the door. That brought me a lot of security, a sense of belonging and is a kind of my safety net.
I met my boyfriend at one of these bars, who bartends there. We now live together. His family is from Manhattan and when you have family here, it changes your perspective. It doesn’t feel temporary anymore. I guess I am more grounded in a way now that I have a real reason to stay.
When I first moved to New York, I lived with one of my best friends, Sarah, from Montreal for years in Chinatown. So that was always a big part of home for me as well. Back then even my sister lived here. It was great to have her. She now lives in Paris but because she’s a great cook, she would invite everyone over — all the French people. We would all eat together which was a lot of fun.
Do you have something special you got with you here?
I have this ring that I always wear. I have been wearing it for years. It looks like a little Buddhahoneycomb head. I get a lot of comments on it. A lot of people think it’s too much but a lot of people like it too. I think it’s representative of me. I bought it during my travels to the U.S. but it’s a Canadian jeweler. It gives me the feeling that everything’s going to fall into place and I just need to keep pushing forward. One of my best friends has it and she bought it in this random town in Quebec. When I saw it in this little shop, I thought to myself, oh my, is this a sign?
Do you remember your first childhood home?
My parents got divorced when I was two and I moved a lot. I moved from Montreal to Ottawa and then I came back to Montreal. The first house I remember had so many colors! The front of the house was bright pink, bright purple, bright green, and bright yellow. It was on a street called Noel... It had all these little quirks. One of the bathrooms was all black. The bathtub was black, the toilet was black, and the sink was black. It was a really weird house. It was great.
How do you feel about the global environment these days?
I think it’s very complex. We are heading into a very complicated time. My brother had a baby and it got me thinking that it would be difficult for me right now, to have a kid and be confident in the world I am giving this baby. I think it’s very fragile and there’s a lot we need to do together to make sure that we’re not heading into a wall.
But I also do think that even though social media and the way people use it is overwhelming, it also is nice to see everyone participating, having an opinion and being involved.