The Importance of Fresh Air

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It had been 6 months since I traveled anywhere. An eternity in my world. Visiting Toronto this past weekend was a breath of fresh air. I didn’t realize just how bad I needed to get out of Detroit for a second to go play. It reminded me how important it is to continue learning, not let my mind settle into one way of thinking, to understand and be grateful for how lucky I am to travel as much as I do. It’s good to get out every once in a while. Life slows down for a minute when I put my usual routine and responsibilities on hold. 3 days felt like 3 months, and I was simply able to enjoy the art of living.

Though it may have only been a short visit, I rediscovered my great fondness for people and my environment. And I was reminded what a privilege and joy it is to share meal with a friend, catch up on life, and bond over common aspirations and obstacles. Reactivating my detective senses, I set to work to find the best food. Rarely a difficult task in Toronto. Typically, I ended up in hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have a multilingual atmosphere, don’t accept credit cards, and can’t accommodate more than 30-50 people at a time. Aimless wandering in between meals required walking until I got blisters on my heels and not thinking about much of anything. Even though the frigid cold wasn’t ideal exploring weather, I loved seeing my breath disappear into the sky, and feeling my insides shiver. Thawing out in cafes, libraries, and bookstores was all the more refreshing.

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When my feet needed a rest, I turned to riding the subway, a mundane task for many. Because I didn’t grow up with a mass transportation system in Detroit, riding any kind of metro or tram system is Disneyland to me. It is an opportunity to break away from the current above ground and recharge by sinking into a book or music for a brief moment. To move seamlessly and quietly from one point to another is something I don’t think I could ever take for granted. Sometimes, it’s comforting to have a reliable resource that will get me where I need to go instead of having to figure everything out on my own.

When I set out to travel, I aim to make every corner of the world a slice of home. There are a few places that I wouldn’t choose to visit again immediately, but they’re home in the sense that they’re familiar. Toronto, however, feels like an extension of my own pulse. With neon lights, abundant food culture, endless entertainment and friends, Toronto accommodates my short attention span and untamed curiosity with ease. Part of that is a testament to my friends who have made me fall in love with Toronto through their own love and passion for the city. Each time I visit, it becomes more and more difficult to leave. I become overwhelmed with sadness, nostalgia, and “can’t I just stay one more day?” It’s safe to say that Toronto has joined the ranks among NYC, Detroit, and Tokyo, as a home where a part of my soul lives and will die. Being away for long enough makes the return all the more special.

Thank you for the breather, Toronto. Thank you for making me recognize how important it is to get out of my routine and my own head more often.

Where have you traveled that has felt like home or a breath of fresh air?

3 Comments

  1. I know the feeling about needing to get away and “play”! Since I had my son (he’s 4 today) I’ve not been able to travel as much and when I do I really, REALLY appreciate it!

    As for “breath of fresh air” places, recently I think going to Ireland made me feel that way, and Penang too. I’m hoping to get to New Zealand too which I’m sure will feel the same (or better!).

    1. Happy belated birthday to your son. 4 is such a cute age! Travel certainly becomes more special the less it happens.

      I LOVED Penang. Would love to live and work there for a few months. Ireland was great too. I remember thinking the air there was really crisp and cool for a literal breath of fresh air. If you make it to NZ this year, I look forward to hearing about it. It’s high on my list too.

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