As I write this, I sit in Heathrow airport in London, having just arrived from Chicago (this will be posted later). I’m on the first leg of a journey to meet the senders of messages in bottles, and hopefully to make new friends. I’m surrounded by strangers, and yet, I can’t shake the feeling that there must be invisible connections between us we are simply not aware of. Maybe someone near me has visited my hometown, or maybe they know one of my friends. Heck, I may actually know someone here!
I remember there was once a Facebook app that created a visual representation of the connections between your friends. You’d click ‘Yes you can have allll my information!’ And then the little app would start churning, and soon enough, it would spit out this crazy looking wheel with all your friends arranged around the border, with little lines drawn between any of them who were connected. This gave you a concrete way to visualize the connections between your friends. How cool would it be if you could visualize the connections between everyone in the airport in the same way? Then, if you’re like me and you get terribly lonely when you travel alone, you could find someone you are connected to and have a good ol time.
Of course, no expedition of mine would be complete without a crazy connection happening unexpectedly. This time, that came in the form of a former student materializing before me in the Chicago airport. We now live several states apart, and it’s been about 4 years since he was in my class.
The moment I saw him I believed it was him–Robert. But I was just tired enough and out of my element enough to second guess myself. But then I saw him a second time, and finally, the airline actually called his name and I KNEW it was him!
Finally I approached him and he recognized me! I had to remind him of my name, but hey, I’ll take it. Robert was such a cool student–very memorable, very creative and imaginative. I have many former students but I was truly glad to see him. Not only was he in the same airport and same wing as me, but he actually was on my very flight, just a few seats away. So we caught up about life, he told me about his upcoming travels, I told him a bit about mine, and that was it. We just crossed paths in a bizarre coincidence, and it was a breath of fresh air in what was for me a long and depressing 26 straight hours or so of travel. When I was farming under the merciless Utah sun at the height of summer last year, every now and then a big cloud would pass in front of the sun and it was just pure relief. This felt like that.
Now Robert is off to various corners of Europe and so am I. I must remember to keep my eyes open. I may not be as alone as I think!