the dust has settled…

Recaps, photos, highlights…it’s all done. I have finally sorted out my life since coming home from Europe last week. yikes-a-bee…that was CAH-RAZY! It didn’t help that my laptop still sits dead in my linen closet, refusing to wake up and offer me access to its contents…thus, blogging on the trip was relegated to borrowed computers for roughly 30 minutes every other night, or when I could wrangle my mom’s laptop away from her facebook-loving fingers. She’s a tough bird, I tell ya! Even so, updates were provided, photos were published, and stories were told…I wish I could just gather you all around in a cute little circle with some fluffy pillows and blankets, so we could have TRUE story time, since I feel that most of my trip has gone undocumented in the blog world mostly for the sake of time, but also for the fact that my words seem to flee upon my fingers striking the keys, and I’m left with jumbles of random bits and pieces that I paste the words “blog post” to and call it a day! My stories are like a child’s Mother’s Day gift…scraps of paper and glue meshed into a ball, connected by a wire hanger, the pièce de résistance. My readers are like the mothers, smiling graciously at my words, uttering “bless her little heart” upon finishing a post.

I say this in all joking seriousness…for real….kidding. 🙂

All real talk joking aside, looking back at my trip, I’m reminded again why I love other cultures. I love the rush you get when you connect with someone who doesn’t speak your language. I love the way traveling challenges every part of your being, from your head, to your heart, all the way to the toes on your feet (and in my case, my back!). It causes you to be bold, yet respectful; to be brave, yet cautious. When you cannot speak the language, it forces you to reach into another part of you to connect. I love how small our world really is, and how much community means, no matter what part of the globe you are from, or how well you know that person. Case in point: Ana (Stephan’s wife) is Italian, but raised in Brazil. In Heidelburg, while strolling through the main pedestrian shopping street, we came up behind an older man and his wife, the man wearing a Brazil emblazoned track jacket. Stephan, being the outgoing, boisterous man that he is, yelled out, “Brazil! Viva!”. Upon hearing the word, “Brazil”, the man and his wife immediately turned around, huge smiles plastered on their faces.

“Tu vivas in Brazil? Dondé eres?”

All of a sudden, it was as if clouds parted, and a rainstorm of conversation poured out from their mouths. Ana quickly engaged in conversation with the couple, whose faces looked as if they had just seen Jesus. Everyone hugged and kissed, rapid fire Spanish still pouring from our lips. The man quickly suggested photos (because who WOULDN’T want to take pictures with strangers? Community people…community), and we gathered like pros in a group, smiling and hugging…una nueva familia.

After chatting some more, Ana and the woman kissed each other’s cheeks before saying good-bye and parting ways.

Another instance occurred in London. My parents and I were enjoying some Starbucks near the Earl’s Court tube station before we headed out to Portobello Market, and as we sat at our table, we couldn’t help overhear the conversation of a family nearby. The father and daughter were talking to an older woman about schools, and all of a sudden I heard the words, “Arkansas” and “Razorbacks”. Ummmm, I’m sorry….what? Well, turns out, I heard right, and we quickly found out (after more “eavesdropping”) that the older woman was, in fact, a drama professor at my alma mater! Of course I had to say hi, since when does that EVER happen? After chatting a bit, we went on our merry way, but that quick encounter was very much a highlight of my morning.

Although these encounters were brief, and really not anything grandiose, they were a reminder that no matter where you are, there is some type of community or fellowship to be found. It makes our world a little less scary, I think!

I feel that community mostly here at home, but also when I travel. There is always a common ground to be found with someone. Finding that common ground can take work, but I have found that most of the time, it is so worth it.

Next time you take a trip, don’t close yourself off to your surroundings. You will be amazed at what (or who) you see around you!

hearts and “happy to see you” hugs,

B.

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