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Telling a story people want to read.

“That’s the beautiful thing about writing… It’s endless.”

So said my shuttle driver this morning between my hotel and the Orlando International Airport. He’d asked me how I’d ended up choosing to live in New York when my family lives in California. A short bit of small talk about geography and the weather later, a mention of Niagara Falls met with my response of having never been led to his comment, “Girl, you need to adventure more!”

And off we were on stories of backpacking alone for months in Europe, and when he asked if I took a lot of photos, a conversation about photography and writing. Stories. People. Life. “The memories you write down so you can show your kids one day, ‘Look, that’s when mommy used to go on adventures.'” He asked if I’d ever written outside my “norm” – pushed the limits to create something I hadn’t before. Asked if I’d ever try my hand at investigative journalism, and if I ever did push to find something new, write something different, what story would I want to tell? “You know it’s the stories that we can relate to, feel a part of – people want to read it.

And that’s the beautiful thing about writing. It’s endless. There’s always more to tell and explore.”

One of the best parts of backpacking alone was having the conversations like this one – two people, strangers, having thirty minutes to talk life because for one reason or another, you’ve been put together in a cab, seated next to each other on a train or both eating solo at the same restaurant. And though I had dozens (hundreds?) of those conversations over the course of the backpacking months – and I’ve tried to continue having them when I can at home – very few of those people will you ever see again. And you have those conversations knowing that will be the case. And because of that, with relative anonymity, I easily shared them here.

Like my Mexican friend who drew the maps in her journal in Bulgaria.

Like my Australian friend who always sang “Two out of three ain’t bad” to me in Serbia.

Like my wheel-chair bound Spanish friend who had me join her in her cab to the city-center, and would have had me stay with her if she wasn’t having her husband’s family that evening for dinner.

Returning from Europe, I remember being disappointed because I would have a lot less stories to share. As time with strangers decreased in return for conversations with friends,  I’d have to filter my writing and sharing for the “characters'” sake. Of course, with the hope I surround myself with people who want to be a part of the story, at least every once in a while, in stories a bit more generalized and conversations entirely more private.

But every once in awhile, you end up sharing a conversation with someone, like your airport shuttle driver, who asks you if what you’re doing now is what you’re meant to do. He said my independence and willingness to talk to strangers makes me a scary daughter and girlfriend to have.

But it makes for such good stories.

Of course, not all the “characters” that make the blog are here because of life-affirming feel good moments.

Take the lady at Krispy Kreme this morning who complained to me about having to put her own cream in her coffee and was not met with the sympathy she was looking for in the slightest.

Also not my favorite, the aisle-seated lady a row ahead of me who just dumped her entire ice water down the side of her chair directly onto my bag containing my laptop, cell and camera.

Not because she had an accident, but because as I am wiping off my sopping bag in my lap with my little cup holder square of a napkin because she has ignored my repeated “excuse me” to grab a few of her stack the attendant gave her, she used her napkin stack as a broom to swipe the spilled ice cubes and lime wedges out of the aisle, swiping them both directly at my feet and under her seat.

Where my bag was, and where my bag needed to return.

And then with no mention of apology with regard to the laptop I’m drying off, she smiles at her success in clearing the aisle with a proud, “Southwest should hire me to clean their planes.”

Sigh.

But it’s added to the pile of little stories. That someday I’ll pull from to write a bigger story. Maybe.

And if not, “here’s all the little stories from when mommy had free time to write about conversations with strangers.”

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6 thoughts on “Telling a story people want to read.”

  1. “Take the lady at Krispy Kreme this morning who complained to me about having to put her own cream in her coffee and was not met with the sympathy she was looking for in the slightest.”

    She had to put her own cream into her coffee?! What a shock! [sarcasm]

    Entitled people are something else. They need to be forced to volunteer for a day and learn to see how the other half lives. I’m sorry to hear about your laptop—people truly just don’t care about other people, and it’s sad.

  2. I absolutely love this. I have gone as far as Spain and India but both times I was sadly with a school-related trip. I have also traveled around America, sometimes in a van, sometimes hitch hiking, and I agree that the little stories are so astounding. They are not always as interesting to other people as they are to you- the sheer context of an interaction is sometimes what gives it such impeccable timing and meaning in your eyes, and someone needs to sit with you for several cups of tea or another round of beer before you can even get the whole thing out! But I think that the personality that you have and the things you have witnessed are what make you a great person who is all the more willing to do more of those things- and to share that awesome way of being with your children- because you are not a person who has shied away from the normal social boundaries. That is awesome. And it’s always good to remember how good it feels to be open and honest with strangers. True empowerment. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Love this post. When I was traveling alone in Hong Kong, I’ll often stop into quaint little cafes to get a cuppa and to gather my thoughts, pen them down into my notebook so as to not forget what I have experienced. I remember one time, I went for breakfast in one of those old timey style dim sum restaurant and as it was the culture there to share tables if you’re alone, I shared my table with a couple of grandfatherly older gentlemen and boy, did they have tales to tell me.

    Thank you for sharing your travel memories with us!

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