[Part 1 of 3 in a new series by Yow Yow!]
Whenever I get back from a trip and tell my friends about the people I met while at the airport, at my gate, or on the plane, they always seem to give me the same response.
“Oh my gosh, you’re THAT girl that talks to people?! That is the worst part about traveling!”
It’s true; I am that girl. But I promise I’m not as bad as they make it out to be in television shows and movies. I’ve always believed that strangers are the ones that can teach you so much about life. This year, more than ever, I’ve done the most traveling and on my last trip just a couple weeks ago, I met three individuals that shared with me stories that you may never imagine yourself to share with anyone else. If I could make a blog dedicated to the people I met while traveling I would, but this will do for now and where these stories lead will transition us easily into the next two parts of this series.
I had made this same trip before. It wasn’t the same destination, but it was with the same purpose. I told myself this time that I would be more prepared. I would use every second I had to study from my notebook and this time for whatever reason – I wasn’t going to blow it. We’d gotten to the airport early enough that I had just enough time for a quick bite. The worst part about traveling by yourself is that you have to be accountable for everything. No one is going to watch your bag for you even if you ask nicely and if you let it out of your sight for a second and it gets taken – well that’s just your own fault!
There’s a reason for everything. A reason for why I asked the man next to me to watch my bag and seat at the counter while I grabbed my meal, a reason for why I chose the seat that I did. A reason for why I decided eating was more important than anything else. We could have gone the whole time without speaking to each other, but we both chose otherwise. As we explained the reasons behind our travels, where we have been previously and where we hoped we would go, the man advised me on what it was I was studying. He helped me on a question that I had previously been stumped on before so that when that question came to meet me again, I understood what it was they were asking and how to tackle it.
“Whether this works out or not, just know that if it didn’t work out – it’s because there is something ahead of you that will be much better. That’s the tricky part, isn’t it? We always want to know what’s going to be ahead so that we can be put at ease, but that’s just life. It’s unpredictable and it takes the fun out of things if we know what is coming before it happens.”
Sometimes when we leave, I learn their names. Other times, I don’t at all. “Let me know if you get it,” he said to me. The man was a stranger, but after an impromptu prep from him, I felt like there was another person that I didn’t want to let down. With his business card in my hand I walked to my gate.
My gate was crowded and after a long work day and an upcoming flight, I was pretty much exhausted. Everything starts to feel like white noise, but the one thing that seemed to break the barrier was the sound of a child crying directly in front of me. Seconds after, his mother came up from behind him and yanked his arm to drag him away. I tell myself I understand the situation. The child is scared that he has lost his family, but he’s not at the age at which he can communicate that clearly to his mother or those around him and the mother reacts to a situation in which she briefly panics, but her actions of being concerned get mistaken for something much worse.
“Don’t you just hate witnessing things like that?”
I look to the woman left of me, “I’m sorry?”
“I think they should require everyone to take a class before they become parents. I really should have said something to that mother just now… I have a son-in-law who carries my granddaughter by her arm when he picks her up, which leaves bruises on her little arms. She’s the sweetest thing in the world and I can’t understand why my daughter has married someone like that. He’s an asshole. The one time I saw bruises on her, I told him that from now on if he picks her up, he has to actually pick her up and carry her, but not by her arms or I’ll call CPS on him… People are not so kind in this world, you know?”
The next few minutes were spent talking about her cheating ex-husband and how he wasn’t there for his kids. She told her kids that she would support them if they ever wanted a relationship with him, but they had made their decision on their own. She proceeded to pull out her iPhone to show me pictures of her granddaughter before telling me that it was nice to meet me and that it was time to board her plane because she was sitting in first class. I never got her name, but already I knew the most intimate details of her life in 20 minutes. We believe all around us that people don’t want to talk to us at the airport, but we never think for a second that maybe someone does.
Flying into one city and leaving it after a little over 24 hours is craziness. People have jobs that require this all of the time, but since that isn’t a job that I am used to, I didn’t know how to adapt. I was in the middle seat wedged next to two people that instantly gave off the vibe that they were not interested in talking. With a Kindle in the lap of the woman next to me and a laptop out next to the woman on my right, I could pretty much take a hint. Before we took off, Kindle lady pulled out her phone to call her husband and daughter.
“Hi baby girl! What are you doing? Are you watching TV? Oh okay, you can give the phone back to Daddy now.” Writing in text doesn’t convey baby voices, but it was what it was.
I spent my entire flight listening to my Spotify playlists until something broke through my barrier again…the sound of a child pushing the arm rest up and down causing it to squeak in the most annoying way possible. I cringed every time I heard it happen and noticed Kindle lady doing the exact same thing. She turned to me, “Do you hear that?”
“That squeaking? I think it’s the child two rows up.”
“Oh my god, that sound! It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. I think some parents after awhile become so accustomed to their kids shrieking or doing irritating things that they just completely tune it out. I think it’s one of those reasons why most people thought that I would never have kids because before I had mine, I used to be one of those people that told my husband that parents need to do something about their screaming kids and I could never handle it. Now I have a daughter – Evelana – and she is my everything. I can’t imagine my life without her, but I’m sure everyone says that. My husband and I waited years and years before we had kids. We met when I was still in college and then dated after I finished. He’s 5 years older than me. And we decided that we would start having kids after we’ve traveled to all of the places we wanted to see first and couldn’t take kids to – like Africa, The Galapagos, Tanzania, etc. So from that moment on we decided we would take one trip a year. Then I realized that my clock was ticking so we upped it to two trips a year and then finally after all that travel we decided that it was just time to have our baby. She’s the greatest thing in the world…
You’re so young. Live up your 20′s. This is going to be an amazing time for you, really. It was the best time of my life until I had my daughter.”
As I land, I wonder how I got to be so lucky to come across these individuals. I wonder about how our paths crossed and how we were so close to never crossing at all. I’m not afraid to talk to people at airports. You can call it annoying or being naive, but I’m giving myself an opportunity and experience that I may never have again with people that I will never see again. It’s like that saying… “All it takes is one person to say Hello.”
And if you’re wondering how I was able to memorize these conversations? It’s somewhat of a gift.