Friday, September 25, 2015

talk to strangers.

i can be a pretty outgoing person at times, i'm known to be kind and friendly, but that hardly changes the fact that for the most part i'm an introverted sociophobe. i've forced myself into situations several times in the past where i'm immersed in a crowd or in places i've never been before full of people i've never met. which is actually kind of easier than moving to a new place and trying to settle and make new friends. talking to strangers is definitely more comfortable when travelling, you pretty much have to to figure your way around and learn about the place you're in. but it's been a challenge for me here, it's been a year and i'm just finally becoming comfortable enough to do so.

earlier this summer a friend from back home sent me a 'challenge' to help get over the funk i've been stuck in, and i think my favourite card out of the whole pile is the one that challenges me to talk to strangers. according to said challenge i only had to talk to three people i didn't know in the same day, but i've taken it to the next level by adopting this challenge as a part of my modus operandi.

i've managed to make half a dozen friends in the past month by simply not being strapped into my ipod everywhere i go. kind of old fashioned like, imagine that.. talking to people in the lunch line, at the grocery store, on the city bus, outside the train station after work.. a lot of people in this city are sort of closed off to that sort of thing, walking around with their faces in their cell phones and giving zero shits about the world around them. but every once in a while there's a friendly face, someone itching to strike up a conversation. i'm doing my best to embrace those situations.

one of my favourite random encounters thus far was on the city bus about a month ago. the bus was stopped at a station and the driver wasn't on board to collect tickets as people were boarding. i walked on, and immediately locked eyes with a fellow sitting in the back corner. i sat in the empty seat by the back door. a moment later another guy boarded, stuck his ticket in the fare box, and because the driver wasn't there to push the button his ticket didn't return. he looked around frustrated and then sat down next to me. when the driver boarded, he reset the fare box and out came the ticket. i noticed, so i walked up and grabbed it, and gave it to the man who'd lost it. the fellow in the corner smiled at me. i couldn't look away, he had such a friendly, familiar face..

as we were approaching his stop he got up a minute early to stand at the back door. he looked me right in the eyes and asked, 'what is your name?' as if he'd felt he had met me before as well. we introduced ourselves, shook hands, and then he asked me where i was off to. i said 'oh, nowhere in particular.. you?' he pointed to an all day breakfast place at the corner and said 'breakfast for dinner' and smiled. i thought that was an amazing idea, as i was starving and asked if he cared if i joined. i can only imagine what was going through the heads of some of the other passengers that witnessed us two perfect strangers introduce at the door, and go to dinner. i caught a glimpse of a tilted head or two.

 for whatever reason neither of us could figure out, we had felt like we'd known each other from long ago. with twelve years difference and a few thousand kilometers between us most of our lives, chances aren't likely. we had a deep, engaging conversation about where we're at in our lives right now and where we've been. we shared similar pasts, being street kids and travellers, having some of the problems that follow those kinds of lifestyles, and the things we've done to overcome them.

we walked and smoked and talked some more on our way to the station. his story was one of the most beautiful and inspiring stories of being reborn in a sense, that i'd ever heard. he was happy to have someone to tell it to. we arrived at the station and before parting ways we looked at each other thinking, should we hug?! haha and we did. it was one of the most genuine things i had felt in a while. i hope to run into him again.

even the internet, as strange as it is to me, has become a resource for meeting people i never would have otherwise. a few of the best friends i've made here i met sort of at random online, and i've been 'one of the boys' ever since. i couldn't imagine my life here without them. i've only just known them barely a year and they're like long lost family. we get together for golf, holiday meals, and epic card games and drinks. it feels like we've known each other forever, which is nice.

all that said, it's taken a while, but i feel far less lonely here than i did. i still have my moments where i wish more than anything i could hug my many loves back home, hop in my bro's car for a road trip out to dad's house, or bum around my hometown crashing couches and visiting my collection of adopted mothers.. but it's getting easier each day. what can i say.. talk to strangers.