I believe in the beauty and the connectedness of people.
Today, I spent time talking, sharing, and opening myself to complete strangers who now hold a piece of my memory.
I met Douglas, a bartender. He approached me and started with the usual small talk. I was just waiting for an Uber at the hotel when I decided to order a beer to kill time. He asked me a couple of questions. Did I like beer, did I mind the hoppiness of the beer, was it my first time trying this beer? So many beer questions. At first, I just wanted to return the small talk and end there, but he went on and asked if I was going somewhere since I had my luggage with me. I replied that indeed I was going home. “Where is home?” Hmmm. I never quite know how to answer this question. Should I say Madison? I don’t look or sound like someone from Madison. Ivory Coast? I might explain why and how long I’ve been in the US and what I was doing here. Finally, I blurted: Madison, BUT I’m originally from the Ivory Coast, in West Africa, next to Ghana.
Why so many details? I always feel compelled to educate people (even if they didn’t need it) on where the Ivory Coast was. It has been memorizing speech for a couple of years now. He asked what I was waiting for, and I told him about the unfortunate incident with the museum. Oh, you look like a very cultured person! I felt so proud to have this adjective used to describe me. Then I told him that I was indeed extremely interested in culture and that everywhere I went, I always tried to visit a museum, a local spot, or just learn about the people in that area- and what they do for fun.
I’m not sure if I sounded this intelligent but he looked impressed. I could also tell that he was eager to share his story as well. He told me how he is from South Carolina, how he spends 24 years stationed in California, how he stayed a year in Japan and how he now lives in Charlotte.
I kept listening to him, taking all his stories in, trying to imagine what it was like, and what it was like for HIM. It was a wonderful exercise, and I took joy in participating and listening to all his wonderful stories…I realized at that moment that this was all it was about. As human beings, we’re drawn to each other’s stories, we want to talk, exchange, learn, and feel, which happened when I spoke to Douglas. I was extremely grateful for the time I shared with him, and to this day, I cherish this experience with the strength of my full heart.