A couple evenings ago on my way home, I met a friendly elderly man. It was very cold and I was sick of being stagnant and waiting for the Parliament bus so I decided to walk towards Castle Frank station, at the very least moving to stay warm. It was just getting to be dark, and as I was crossing the street, a man, perhaps in his 70s dressed in a toque and carrying a rucksack on his back, looking like he was planning to travel far, approached me comfortably and asked if I was walking east, and if so we could keep each other company - walking with someone always speeds up the passing of time when it is cold - which always seems painfully slow when you’re on your own. I told him that I was actually walking towards the TTC station but would be happy to walk with him even for the short little while.
He asked me where I was from. I told him where my parents were from and where I was born. Since he had asked me, I asked him too where he was from.
“Nowhere,” he said with much indignantly, “I do not have a country… as the Americans have destroyed my homeland. Yugoslavia does not exist…”
And so we talked about American intervention and invasions, commiserating over world politics for perhaps 5 or ten minutes. I am not sure. It was just a short connection, one that felt so normal and natural. One that should happen more on cold blistery evenings as well as sunny warm ones. Ones I get to engage in regularly working outdoors in the neighbourhoods that I work in.