I can see the luggage tag on his suitcase. I must admit that I am curious as I zero in on the tag and the address comes into focus ….. ONTARIO CANADA! My heart starts to beat a little faster and I cannot divert my gaze, I am unable to stop staring. My mind keeps willing him to sense the awkwardness of my stare. Hoping to make him unconfortable enough to feel compelled to return my gaze. Unfortunately, a few minutes pass and I can’t seem to will him to look at me. I feel myself becoming more desperate as time passes. I only have a 25 minutes window to make a connection and I have already wasted 10 minutes! Finally, I take a deep breath and muster up the courage to open the flood gates, unleashing my excitement as words escape my lips in rapid succession.
The sense of familiarity I have, even though I’m talking to a complete stranger, is overwhelming. It turns out that he lives only a couple of hours from where I spent the first forty-four years of my life on planet earth. So it is no surprise he has the unique ability to relate to my Canadian past and yet for a brief moment he has a glimpse into my present as he shares his five day Rotterdam experience.
Wishing I could make time stand still, but knowing I can’t, I make the most of the precious minutes that remain on the train on my way to work.
Finally we arrive at the airport and as we part ways at Schiphol I realize I never did get his name, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter. For in that moment the only thing I needed was to feel known.
Sometimes when 6306 km separates you from everything familiar, feeling known by another human being, even if only for a moment, is what you miss the most.