A Man Without Purpose is a Man Without A Home

There is nothing I find more incredibly interesting than stumbling upon strangers and striking up {or being at the receiving end} of incredibly interesting conversations.

After a mind-numbing 12 hours en route to Vancouver with the snobbiest seatmates {fine, benefit of the doubt and all that}, things got more interesting from Vancouver as I switched planes and left for Toronto. As soon as I arrived in Toronto, I felt that I was completely alone, in a foreign city, with no friends, no family, and no one to run to.

It was dream come true.

6. Visit a foreign city on my own and not just on a layover.I have so many plans of travel for this year that I don't know which part I would actually be able to do this. Oh well, there is always 2011 and I am certain I can do this for it doesn't have to be somewhere far. HK on my own sounds amazing, yeah?

Even if it was just a little more than 24 hours. 

As soon as I was able to leave my humongous {pseudo stress-inducing} luggage at the hotel, I faced the cold Toronto air and got lost in the streets. Since I was so hungry from all the hauling and walking, I stepped into a joint {Mystic Muffin, it was called} as soon as I saw the sign 'Toasted Ham and Cheese Bagels.' And was I in for more than that.

"Where are you from?" was his first question. Elias Makhoul at first glance did not seem like your normal apple cake / muffin / hummus baker. His accent was indistinct as well as his skin tone that I didn't realize he wasn't originally from Toronto. "Manila. Philippines," was what I cheerily answered despite still thawing inside from the cold. He proceeded to tell me of all the nice things he's heard about the country and we launched into a series of discussions about traveling, apple cake, of why I should date his friend Paul and iceberg lettuce.

Elias | Photo credit: The Torontoist

As he worked his way back into the kitchen, and I proceeded to attack the bagels, Wonita {his hand in the kitchen and apparently, his bagel specialist} gave me a slice of what was probably the best apple cake I've eaten in my life. As I was mindlessly gobbling it up, my eyes wandered around the joint and was incredibly charmed by everything I saw. And read.

Home is every street and every block I live in. A man without a purpose is a man without a home.

Like the journalist I once was, I fired question after question at Elias, and he gamely answered. "I've been living for 20 years now in Toronto. Most of us here, we are from somewhere, and we make out something in here and exist in peace. I love it here." Of course, once in a while, his friend Paul would come creeping into the conversation and I'd tell him I didn't fly 7,000 miles to come find love {more like run away, actually}. "You never know what's to happen, you know. When it's there and staring you right at the face, it will fall into place. It's never your choice." For a few seconds I was speechless and broke into my signature laugh {you'd know if you ever hear it}.

The guy had a point.

We exchanged some more interesting talks {guy does his own charity work, in his own way and teaches kids how to cook!} and I told him I was off to get lost in the city. As I walked into the cold Toronto morning, while the 12 degree Celsius air assaulted my hands, I felt different --- nostalgic, braver, somehow, and with a purpose.

Halfway around the world, at a street I couldn't pronounce, with no one familiar, I felt at home in my own skin.