Friday, January 4

Chance Meetings

For a while now I’ve been wanting to write a post about spontaneously meeting people. You know, meeting people you’ve never met before: new, exciting (or so we hope) people. Thing is, this seems to happen quite frequently. So I think of some stories to retell, some people to try and colour in truthfully, even though I’ve perhaps only spent ten minutes talking with them; but then I get some more stories, and some more. So many that I’m not sure if I can write about them all.

It’s one of the things which makes me happy. Most of us have people close to us who we like to spend time with; people who we can be in hysterics, or crying, or talking, or just sat at ease with. But, often, this takes a while to reach: it’s not something which happens easily. Anyway, I seem to meet a lot of people. I don’t know whether this is because I prefer to, and do smile when I’m happy, or that I say hello to people if they smile at me and live locally (somehow my parents know a lot of people, and so a lot of people know me through them, even though I don’t know them directly…) Or maybe I’m just sociable (when I’m having a good day.)

A couple of days ago, I ended up meeting so many people who were just fantastic that it was actually surprising. I had some great conversations with strangers, and my day could have been really quite shitty if I hadn’t had that. On the way to where I was going, with the taxi driver I chatted about reading, and having too many books so that you run out of space, and having so much paper that it clutters everywhere, and people’s aspirations, and blah like that (although this was mostly provoked by the taxi driver; when I got in the taxi I was in quite a crap mood… you know the sort of mood where you’re determined, stupidly, that ‘today will be a shit day’, because, you know, whatever you’ve got planned really isn’t that pleasant, and of course, that means today will be a shit day… essentially, where your optimism is not even attempting self-revival.) This made me happy. It’s reassuring, when people talk about how, for them, writing is the best escape, one of the greatest pleasures. I had money for the taxi, of course; but I didn’t have enough money. It was a relatively short journey (so he wasn’t earning loads out of it), but he told me to pay him over £2 less than what it was (because otherwise I wouldn’t have enough for the bus) that he didn’t really mind, and that, right now, money didn’t matter too much to him. Kind of reassuring, don’t you think?

After the thing I went to, I had to get the bus. I think I’d just missed one, because I had to wait a while. (Damn, damn de damn…) I ended up, however, chatting – in French – with a French couple who were my age. About trying to decide what to do, about holidays, about needing money, about Poitiers, about Paris, about France VS England…

The bus came. I didn’t have enough money for the bus; it was a different service to the one I typically use. Kindly, I was let off about £1.30, which meant I could get home (it was way too far to walk). On the bus, a woman began talking to me, who I discovered is an artist, speaks French and German, and lives locally (hopefully I’m going to go and have a look at some of her work sometime.)

A lot of the people most important to me now, or who have inspired me a lot, have been people I’ve met spontaneously, as a surprise. A lot have been people I’ve met on trains, or planes, or simply who’ve asked me about what book I was reading (often whilst on a train)… It’s not surprising to meet people you click with if you’re visiting places of common interest, I suppose, like a particular art gallery, or being in a certain section of the library… though I still find it encouraging. Despite all the shit out there, and all the people who shun things which are fantastic (or at least, for me, fantastic), there also exists those who are interesting, intriguing, and generous.

PS: I recently saw The Kite Runner. My recommendation goes out for everyone to see this film. I managed to see it in a fantastic, small cinema; you could hear the rest of the audience crying. I was surprised it's only rated a 12 (it is brutally violent in parts), and it is strongly a sad film, but it needs to be seen. If you are thinking about going to see a film - or even if you're not - make the choice to go and see this.