Green Travel: Vacation Over-Share
It really is amazing the things you can learn from a trip just about anywhere. There are all the things that you get to see, many of which have been the driving force behind your desire to head out into places far and wide. You also have the opportunity to try new foods, be exposed to new cultures and ways of looking at life. And more importantly, you get to meet new people. They say a stranger is simply a friend you haven’t yet met and there is a great deal of truth in that. Some of the most interesting and closely bonded friendships are forged in foreign lands. But when people are simply ships that pass in the night, never to cross paths again, you will discover that a very interesting thing will happen – a total loss on inhibition, or what I call Vacation Over-share.
It is the oddest thing that I have ever had happen, but every single time I travel, and more often when I travel alone, I end up coming across people with whom I am forced into a period of confinement and we begin to talk. This forced confinement is typically at the airport or on the plane, or on the shuttle bus somewhere. During these times there is nothing to stop you from talking and often times a conversation is struck up. Once the pleasantries are out of the way, a shift occurs and suddenly the mild mannered conversation you were just having suddenly turns into a drama of characters worth of a soap opera or the Jerry Springer Show.
Now, don’t get me wrong, these conversations are amazing and a great way to gain perspective on your own life. I have never found a single of these conversations to be completely without merit, regardless of when they occurred or what the general feeling was in the middle of the thing. I love these no-holds bar types of conversations and sometimes, I will admit, I am the one spilling my guts to a total stranger, even some of the more intimate details of my life that I have never shared with anyone close to me. I am not sure what it is about travel that makes it ok to talk about extraordinarily private matters over bad coffee, late at night, in an airport lounge waiting for a delayed flight, really craving a cigarette, even if you have never smoked a day in your life. There is just something in the knowledge that in a few short hours you will be thousands of miles away from the person you are talking to and your secrets will make for a funny store they tell their friends, while theirs find their way into your narrative of your trip. You will remember the story, the person, the place it took place, but you will be damned if you can remember the persons name, assuming you ever knew it in the first place.
Travel allows you to be someone you are not or cannot be in your daily life. It is also a great way to get some heavy things off your chest, especially if you come across someone like me, who is always happy to have a conversation to pass the time, because I always hate the book I pack for the plane, no matter how much I wanted to read it when I packed it. While it is true that I do tend to write about these conversations but like my fairly anonymous friend, I leave out identifying characteristics and identifying names.
For example, just to other day I had a conversation with a woman who was very interesting and who’s job I would actually rather like to have. She approached me as a mater of occupational interest while I was engaged in my other day job. The conversation turned several corners, took a couple hairpin turns and suddenly was smack dab in the middle of Overshareville. It’s a nice neighborhood and I have spent a great deal of time here. My new neighbor was pouring her heart out about very heart wrenching stuff and there I was, standing and smiling, nodding at all the right intervals, all the while thinking, “Why is she telling me all this?” To be honest, it wa a very interesting conversation and I was amazed to actually be having it with whom I was having it with. Honest. I am glad she shared her woes and I think we both walked away from the conversation a little better for having shared it. And that is exactly the whole point of these moments. So embrace them. Accept them. Participate in them.
So, as you head out for your next green adventure or Eco trek, and you happen to find yourself suddenly in a conversation with a stranger, consider that they really are just like you, and may be looking to share a story that will make you laugh or cry, cringe or shiver in fear. Participate and be better for it. It is a part of the experience and should always be embraced, unless of course you have to run for your connecting flight. There are conversationalist everywhere so don’t worry. Your time will come. It’s inevitable. Don’t fight it. Jump in, the water is fine.
Travel green. Pass it on.