June 20, 2016
When I wrote this column for the March 2015 issue of Globe Style Advisor, I hadn’t yet fully formed the notion that I would completely restructure the way I live around travel. Now, I spend half the year in Toronto and the other half… wherever. This airborne life isn’t for everyone, for sure. It requires a high tolerance for uncertainty and solitude. Yet lately I’ve never felt more like myself than when I’m on a train or a plane.
It took me too long to travel.
My family took camping trips and we didn’t have passports. As a young person landlocked in rural Ontario, travel both enchanted and intimidated me. I imagined other places like pictures in books – Europe was full of statues, New York was in black and white. I couldn’t afford to do the gap year backpacking trip or exchange program at fashion school and I envied my friends when they went away and returned home more sophisticated. I spent all my time in the library, wondering when I’d be rich and brave enough to fly away.
When I finally accumulated a small travel budget, I chose my destinations with a sense of urgency. I like to draw fashion, so there have only been three places in the world I needed to go.
The first time I went to New York City, I was 24 and no longer a student. I went alone and felt I had located the central nervous system of my world. Since then, I’ve always traveled alone. I finally crossed the Atlantic Ocean when I was 28, to live in London. From there, I took the Eurostar to Paris as many times as I could. New York, London, Paris are my travel holy trinity.
Photographer Bill Cunningham says visiting Paris is crucial to “educate the eye” and it’s so true. If you’re interested in fashion, you need to go to its French heart to truly understand its nature, driven by a culture deeply obsessed with street life and status. London gave me the master class in aesthetics that elevated my taste from provincial to worldly. And New York taught me to hustle, to shake off rejection, to be persistent and resilient.
I know nothing of vacations, beaches, resorts or skiing. I don’t seek escape. I want to break in. This travel philosophy makes every journey an existential one. The destination is destiny. I’d recommend buying that ticket to anyone. What fascinates you most? Where in the world does that thing originate? Go there, as soon as you can.