by Parker Vige
Security. Then luggage. Coffee. Next, we wait. Board the plane. Sleep.
I arrive in London at 6:23AM, November 26th. I step off the plane, walk through the tunnel connecting the gate, and here all of the faces which have grown familiar after 13 hours of flight scatter at impossible speeds. I chuckle to myself; it’s blatantly obvious I’ve overestimated my abilities in planning such an ambitious, idealistic trip across Europe.
The next stop was border control. How hilarious (foolish) it is, in hindsight, that I believed somehow my status as an American passport holder would grant me some sort of expedited experience. It did not. I waited in line for two hours. The unmoving queue provided me an abundance of time to further procrastinate making actual plans for my travels. I knew where I would sleep that night and that was about all I could handle at the time.
No sooner was I frustrated by the long wait, when a man arduously forced his way though the mass of people surrounding me. Excuse me, sir? I looked around to see if anyone had noticed or if my brain had simply conjured the ordeal out of pure listlessness. The kid to the right of me had noticed and he seemed to join me in my distaste. I sarcastically thought, what better way to begin a conversation than playing on a common hatred and misplaced frustration?
I started, “I’m not sure where he’s going, but I sure hope he gets there.” The kid laughed and mentioned he was thinking the same thing. Naturally a conversation ensued, ranging in topic from American education to international affairs. I learned he was a student in Australia, 18-years-old, and also taking a gap year. His name was Cam. Yes, just Cam. And to my surprise, Cam had no plans while traveling London. By the time we made it through border control, we had made plans to travel together to our accommodations, and meet later for some exploring. To keep the story short, we later met another traveler, a 23 year-old-girl from Spain, who was seamlessly adopted into our new family. Cam, Maria, and I spent the next three days roaming the city streets, getting soaked by spontaneous, London rain showers, and taking very bland meals together.
Would you believe me if I told you the same situation came to life in Paris? Of course my new friend’s name was not Cam, but this time Sébastian, and he was from Paris as opposed to Australia.
Today I find myself in Munich making dinner plans with someone I just happened upon in a Starbucks. (Don’t judge me for my taste in coffee, this is the only place in Europe where you can get a cup of coffee larger than a teaspoon.)
My travels are teaching me the value in relationships. Life = relationships. When you truly consider the issue, you realize that absolutely everything in life is dependent on (1) your relationship with yourself, (2) your relationship with God, or (3) your relationship with others. In all facets: work, hobbies, religion, travel. I’ve enjoyed my days of traveling alone well enough, but remember a place is only a place when you don’t have someone to share it with. My point being in all of this: God while provide. Let me be clear that he’s not going to hold the conversation for you, or smile at a stranger in your place, but you will be given opportunities to explore new relationships. Do not forsake them, because one day, with much effort on your part, you may have a new friend in every city of the world.