I confessed at work today that for me, people are a matter of life or death. I think more particularly, though, I simply could never live without the possibility of strangers. It is what I love most about living in cities; the constant surround of faces you have yet to meet, of people whose each and every world is a universe unexplored, full of fascination and wonder. I could wander in strangers forever and not feel more at home than with a thousand faces I do not know; do not know yet.
When I flew up to Sacramento, California the other week, I chatted briefly with the man working one of the shops. We spoke of weather, of what brought him to that place (he was not a local), of where he would rather live and why. And I asked him if this was not where he wanted to be, what kept him there?
I love the endless questions you can ask the stranger, and how the answers colour the world a little more fully.
When I picked up a rental car recently, the manager sent me to meet the car agent. She introduced herself, and I heard in her immediately an echo of me. While talking over the car and making sure it had no dents I need worry about, we talked over the world. We had both lived at some point in Eastern Europe, and it was just beautiful, that moment of meeting someone with whom you share a whole other world--a language group neither of you currently speak in, but both dream in. Food and the lilt on your tongue that taste the same. And she, looking at me, said, "and of course, you are an artist." I did not disagree. It is one of my many me's.
I think if the world doesn't hold those moments, when strangers are kindred, when people carry worlds like a narnian wardrobe door, when one foreign being can see your own being and be seen in return--truly seen--then it would be so much meaninglessness to me. So cliched and wearied.
In a day and a half I'll be in an airport again, moving back into other worlds--places and people alike--and I can hardly wait for all those beautiful encounters.w