Toronto

Sometimes the hum of a big city can quiet a restless soul.

And so my teenage daughter and I decided to pack up the car and head north for Thanksgiving. To Toronto, a city my family and I had visited dozens of times when I was a child. When we went, it was usually for the day. We’d leave as early as possible, and reach the city in time for an early lunch and some window-shopping at the Eaton Centre.

The first time my daughter and I made the pilgrimage together, she was eight years old. We treated ourselves to a stay at the Delta Chelsea on East Gerrard off Yonge Street. Our room, number 654, was in the old part of the hotel. It was spacious and endearing, despite the faded curtains and walls that needed a paint job. We visited several more times – in fact, we got in the habit of coming at least once a year. Each time, I asked for room 654.

Quite out of the blue – and after staying away for at least four years – she and I decided to go back to Toronto, and our beloved Delta Chelsea. This time our room was located in the renovated section of the hotel and on the 14th floor. (No, I didn’t ask about room 654.)

I had barely taken the keycard out of the door when my daughter made it clear she wanted us to go our separate ways for a few hours. So off she went to explore the shops on Yonge. I, meanwhile, savored the chance to travel according to my own impulses, taking more than 100 pictures along the way. (It’s only been within the past few years that I’ve come to appreciate the power of a good camera.) Even as I fixated on the details of a building or the bright colors of a billboard, I recalled my many walking adventures in other foreign cities, including Paris, Tokyo, Rome and Hong Kong. I thought about how much I want my daughter to keep herself open to new sights, sounds, smells, tastes and serendipitous moments that can only occur when you allow yourself to leave home – both physically and mentally.

My hope is that as she makes her way out in the world, she’ll carry with her the inspiration of Toronto, a beautiful, bustling cosmopolitan hub. And the place that became our home away from home whenever we ventured out together.

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