Talking to Strangers Taught me Things. (Sorry, Mum)

Depending on the day, I can either be a total people person, or a real-life version of Gollum– you know, before Bilbo took the ring. On those days, I loathe anyone who makes eye contact and try not to leave the house.

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Precious doesn’t want to go outside, the sun doesn’t likes him, no it doesn’t…sss…sss

One of my goals for getting better is to tell myself on those latter sorts of days to suck it up, princess. The world goes on regardless of whether or not you’re stuck inside. Why don’t you go enjoy it? Stop missing stuff! –that type of thing.

When I was invited to check out an outdoor weekend market a few towns over last night, I said yes for two reasons: the first, because it was a family outing. I’m not going to say no to a family outing, especially if they’ve been kind enough to take me in for the summer. Second: because every fiber of my being told me that I shouldn’t go. Not because of any weird intuition, or anything telling me that we were going to crash and die on the way down (ain’t no Final Destination shit goin’ on in here, no sah), but because I did not forsee myself wanting to go out. So before I could convince myself otherwise, I said yes. And then I put my phone down so that I couldn’t pick it back up again and tell them I wasn’t coming.

I regretted it all night. Oh, there’s writing I could be doing, I didn’t have a chance to do that today, oh, I still have to do those dishes, oh I’m still not feeling too hot, sleeping in tomorrow would help me, I’m really going to need Saturday to work.

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In other words.

I regretted it when I woke up at 6:30 this morning to shower before we left at eight. And at seven, when I still hadn’t gotten out of bed.

And at twenty to eight when I– God forbid– pulled out the hairdryer to make sure I didn’t get stuck in a chilly sea-side town with frozen hair in May.

But when I got into the car and we pulled away, I was surprisingly thankful I’d made it that far. I love my family; they know the area better than I do. It was time to explore.

And you know what? When I got there, I began to–gasp– enjoy myself. Not because of all of the booths that allowed potential shopping of goods that no one was going to have, but because in taking everything in, I felt joy, and interest and curiosity and peace. I wandered around and looked at antique furniture, homemade bread, two dollar book sales (girl, you know I hit dat up), jewelry counters. I saw things and met people and not only was my creativity fed, but my soul was too. For the first time in a long time, I struck up a conversation with a woman–a complete stranger, careful kids–petting a dog outside of a little shop. We spoke about art. I told her that I was new to the area, and she gushed about its charm and warmth, and in that moment, not only did I believe her, but I saw it; I felt it. We spoke about writing, and she told me how much our county benefited creative people like me. We wandered around and looked at pottery inside the shop we stood in front of, and met the owner and maker of that pottery, and I saw just how people like me can survive in little places like this and be happy.

On the way home, I had a conversation with my aunt, who is wise and beautiful and smart and who knows the world better than I ever could. I learned things.

Also, I bought a cookie. And that cookie tasted awesome.

It’s early afternoon now, and I’m still going to write and read and do all of the things I wanted to do, but instead of moseying around the house, stopping for an hour here and there to surf the net and not change out of my pajamas (or put on pants, for that matter), I’m sitting on my couch, relaxed and thankful for a day that gave me things. Things that I never would have had had I stayed in.

And so my challenge to you is this. Go out. Go out on days where you feel like it the least. Go and find curious places with people and new things, and if you happen to stop for a moment, say hello to anyone close to you. Do not fear the crowds and public places, because even though they’re intimidating, they hold experiences that you aren’t going to get on Netflix, or going through your girlfriend’s latest vacation pics on Facebook. Talk to your family; they know things and they want to share them with you. And for the love of God, not having pants on is not an excuse to stay in. You’re missing real adventure, here.

Today, I found joy in the mundane, because I discovered that sometimes all you need to feel better is to step out the front door for something other than a big night out or a roadie with the girls. And now, as I settle myself down to write some more, I’m ready and willing to explore where this story is going to take me. To be honest, I don’t know where it would have gone had I stayed in.

I can tell you though, not as far.

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