“What’s your name?”
Its a question that tends to come after the decision to trust while traveling. Its not the first question, sometimes its the last question asked before parting ways with a new friend. I spent days in someones company before even thinking to ask their name, I like to know names but sometimes it seems less important than finding out what kind of person they are. I ask where they are from, why they went traveling, how long they have abroad and what some of their best experiences were. Everyone knows you can’t be friends with every person you meet so we skip to the parts that are important to us.
Its an odd kind of interview. Are they similar? are they different? It matters what kind of person you’re talking to because each bit of travel information will be shaded by that person preferences. Some people like trekking, some people like good food, some people like comfort, some people like drinking, some people want an authentic experience and some people like meeting new people. If you love meeting other backpackers but you go where an authentic experience type of person recommends you may find yourself in some middle of nowhere town without a single person to talk to.
So I ask to figure out the kind of person I’m talking to. Sometimes its really easy, a few words make it obvious what that person is looking for. And then you’ll meet someone that doesn’t care about home countries or last destinations. That’s my favorite. When the questions go from “How are you?” to “What are your nightmares like?” in about a minute. Its not usually that fast but for me those are the people and conversations that make me grow up into a different sort of person. Talking frankly with a stranger is a certain kind of freedom, honesty can come easily and through the lack of pressure to portray myself in a certain light I learn more about who I am when no one is watching.
Connections are like fires, once they are lit they can consume fuel very fast. At home people don’t have the time, freedom or anonymity to meet a stranger and turn twenty four hours into a life changing relationship. Even when its a few hours of talking in a cafe it can begin something and through meeting a totally New person it will start New ideas. Sometimes truly new ideas are hard to come by in our regular lives, most people I surround myself with at home have similar ideologies. Of course they do but out here I accidentally meet different kinds of people and before I have a chance to push them away as an “other” they are a friend.
There are many ways to connect but I long for the kinds of connections that are built by a shared desire to explore oneself. So many other things could be from another world but when that desire to get to know yourself is shared it can create amazing conversations and deepen understandings that would not otherwise ever leave their shallow residence.
“What’s your name?” She asked after a day of conversations.
She already knew who I was so the name meant more when added to the person.