One of the pleasures in travel for me is striking up conversations with people along the way. These people that you meet in faraway places have no knowledge of you, no idea who this goofy person is. You can be anyone you want to be in that moment. Mostly I choose to be just me but I can relax into the conversation because, in all probability, I will never see this person again. Allow me to introduce you to some of the people I met along the way when visiting in SoCal last week.
William was a barista in a little coffee joint in downtown Los Angeles. Matt and I had been wandering about the old downtown on a Sunday morning and Matt was looking for coffee. We finally located a place that was open on a Sunday (remember, this is the civic center area - not a lot of work day traffic on a Sunday). William was downright friendly - perhaps we were entertainment for him on an otherwise slow morning? When he realized we were tourists staying out in Santa Monica, he urged us to try the Metro (the underground). He not only gave us clear directions and things to note along the way, he also slipped us a bag of cookies for "sustenance on the way home". Yay, William!
Later, on that same expedition, we needed to
change buses. While waiting on the corner, we were approached by Farid. He had questions about the bus which we tried to answer, letting him know right off that we really didn't know what we were doing. While we waited together, I discovered that Farid was a 27 year old PhD student at a mid western university. His homeland is Egypt and we had a wonderful conversation about the contemporary Egyptian culture and the values of the Muslim religion. We continued that conversation once the bus arrived and, when we had to part ways, we exchanged emails. Farid and I are now email pen pals!
Spike was quite the character. We spotted him while walking to dinner one evening. He was set up with a whole fighting ring in the little grassy strip that runs between the sidewalk and the curb. Go, Spike!
And then there was Porter! I met Porter on the grass near the pier in Santa Monica. Matt and I were just chillin' for a while when Porter and his peeps showed up. The lovely couple who had brought him to the park were very busy with intimate attentions of their own but the man kept tossing out a ball for Porter to chase -- and he ran after it every time and returned the ball to dad - never once barking! I kept trying to get Porter to play with me (without interrupting or intruding upon his peeps) and, finally, as we were about to leave, Porter gave me some attention. Which meant, I could do the same back. He was super soft and so playful. His peeps turned out to be very friendly and I discovered that he was a poodle terrier mix. Never thought I would ever yearn for a poodle but, let me tell you, his cousin might come to live at our house one day.
Enough for today. What these conversations tell me is that most people are much the same all over the world. For the most part, we all want the same things: a safe place to live, someone to love and someone by whom to be loved, enough financial resources to take care of yourself and your family, a little fun, and a friendly world in which to live. I sure found SoCal to be home to lots of good people.