Thursday, June 1, 2017

Friendly Strangers



I arrived at Cape Town International Airport early one morning in March. I’d arranged for a car to be delivered from the same rental company I used last year: Allen’s Car Hire in Kirstenhof (highly recommended).
The car rental guy waited for me, holding a sign with my name on it. My brother and his wife, who were on a different flight, came through first and saw the sign and so gave him a message to give to me. It was a bush telegraph of sorts, and handy because my phone wasn’t working. Then I came through and the rental guy and I recognized each other from last year. On the way to the car, he asked me, “How are things with your daughters?” He remembered the car ride to the airport last year where I sat next to him for an hour, sobbing, and told him my life story and how I’d messed up so badly with my girls. Now, I told him, things are still a challenge but that I went to my older daughter’s wedding in Austin and it was wonderful. “I’m daring to dream of reconciliation one day,” I said.  “That’s good,” my friendly stranger told me, “it’s a good start.”
Friendly strangers are everywhere. I know not everyone is interested in engaging with a stranger, but it’s so great when something clicks and friendship happens unexpectedly. Just before coming back to SA, I met a real soul mate in the Virgin America lounge at LAX and ended up inviting her to visit us in Cape Town—she is going to try! And a few weeks before, I met a young woman in Union City near San Francisco, who works at Gallus Pot Restaurant and who, when she heard my barking cough, brought me warm refills of their healing soup and a special honey and lemon hot toddy that tasted like a gift from my late mother. If you are suffering from what my brother is calling the 2017 International Flu and you are close to Union City, go get that soup—I think it’ll cure anything!
At my sister’s house in Cape Town, she gave me directions to get to her hairstylist the next day (I was stealing her appointment, she understood my need was great). She said I’d better pay attention or I might get lost. I listened carefully as my sister gave me the directions to the road we grew up on … too jetlagged to completely get her joke and vaguely wondering why she thought it was going to be so hard for me to find my way home.
Anyway, so I’m still wandering the planet seeking joy and wisdom and purpose but for now I’m on a road well-traveled, where I was greeted by the mountain, the ocean, and a friendly stranger in my hometown. 


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