Carpe Diem: Strangers

Don’t talk to strangers. You’ve heard this perhaps a million times. Parents especially say this to kids because strangers can be bad guys. But have you ever defied this rule?

Just like other days, I came to Starbucks and took a “territory.” This is my regular habit. On the second floor, I conquered two couches and a table. There were only few people at the store that time, so I expected nobody would invade my space. I took my usual order of cake and Frappuccino and set my laptop on the table. I placed all my other things, notebook and pens, on the couch beside me. I removed my sandals and sat comfortably. I checked other tables and other people around me. I’d known I got a glance of somebody at another table far from my right. The person was alone, just alone with his cup of frappe. He wasn’t somebody notable until later–

“Ignore strangers” is also my motto in this kind of situation. I am quite sensitive when it comes to my personal space. I am not fond of being interrupted by random people. I am friendly, but I don’t easily entertain strangers.

Then again, this time seemed to be interesting…

I was a little startled to find before me the stranger I spotted earlier. A little startled and a little more displeased. He asked if he could occupy the couch in front of me. I didn’t smile and before I could even respond, he had already taken the seat. At that point, I was already irritated by the seeming arrogance of this person. Now, he was sitting in my territory while there were many other vacant tables.

For quite a while, he was just there, seating comfortably, watching me while I wrote on my journal. Finally, he asked my name and I answered briefly. At first, I was still feeling upset, but he softened me a bit—partly because he was cute. He’s tall, slender and fair. His eyes were big and round and sleepy, the kind that’s captivating. His small lips never got tired from smiling. He started talking a lot. He was a young man with a deep, full voice. He was so pleasant and easygoing. When there’s dead air, he’d fill it. So, there was never an air of silence between us.

We talked and talked. And kept on talking. We talked like we could never care about the time and about everything else around us. It was around 8 o’clock in the evening when we sat inside Starbucks. It was now past 10, but we hadn’t gotten enough of our conversation. We finally went out of Starbucks and decided to take some walk at the nearby park.

The frustration I was feeling earlier from his intrusion was now gone. It’s amazing how I could talk freely with someone I barely knew. It’s amazing to talk to someone who gave his full attention. It’s amazing to talk to a stranger and feel like you’d known each other for a very long time.

We sat on the grass by the pond with the dark sky and stars above us. It was a great feeling being with this stranger. He could tell me anything about him—his habits, his values, his frustrations. And I could tell him as much about myself. We never checked the time. We never worried about being home late. I was aware of the fact that he was a total stranger that I happened to meet and talk to. And that we might not meet again. Despite knowing that we might just remain strangers to each other after this, I just indulged myself in his company.

For a stranger, he had been a really great confidant and a wonderful motivator. He had realized I have low self-esteem, and he had made good effort to convince me how beautiful I am. In such a short time, I had hugely appreciated him. It’s like the first time I had a conversation with somebody that actually made a lot of sense. Despite his young age of 17 (I was 18 then), he talked even more sensibly than those older than him that I had talked to.

We amazingly concluded the night at 2 AM.

That night, I realized talking to a stranger may not always be a bad thing. After all, all our friends start out as being strangers to us, too. All the more, it’s not always that we meet a perfect stranger. This perfect stranger had given me a good feel of six hours that felt like it could never end. Too bad we remained strangers after that.

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