Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Dying seems less sad than having lived too little. -Gloria Steinem
I was on the plane from New York to Kiev, before we took off we just sat there for about an hour and a half waiting for the trucks to come defrost us. After about 20 minutes of boring, a guy across the isle from me asked what time we were suppose to leave. (Nice conversation starter.) Little did I know, that was the start of a 10 hour conversation. My plan was to sleep the whole time, but that changed. After about an hour and a half of talking across the isle we asked the babushka next to me to trade him places. She did, and we didn’t stop talking til we were in Kiev. Has anyone seen Before Sunrise and Before Sunset? Total dialog movies of just completely fascinating conversation between 2 people who randomly meet on a train in Europe. That’s kinda how I felt. I like to think of myself as a people person and a good conversationalist, and I feel like decent and/or interesting conversation with strangers happen to me more than the average person. But this one was different than any of those. We had an immediate connection with each other, on a really different level. We established early on that he has someone in NYC and while I’m single, there is someone who…is kinda occupying my time and attention right now.
Anyway, He’s 29 years old, born in Jerusalem, raised in Israel. He’s an Orthodox Jew studying to be a doctor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York. We talked about everything- our childhoods, families, travels, school, careers, bad habits, good qualities we feel we possess, struggles, relationships, fears, religion, dreams, goals, our cultures, really just about everything. It was really cool to be totally open with someone I’d just met and felt completely comfortable doing it, and also knowing that he was feeling the same way. I’ve been pretty reserved lately and there’s a lot on my mind that I didn’t feel really comfortable talking about with anyone, maybe I needed him to talk to just so I could hear myself say things out loud instead of just working them over in my head and feeling more frustrated. Whatever it was, it was rad and the time flew by. (pun)
We got off the plane and went through passport control together, then he helped me with my luggage and we went through customs. He asked me, “So what now? You don’t just meet someone like you, have an amazing conversation on a plane and then say good-bye.” I said, “Maybe you do.” I had someone waiting for me to take me to my apartment. He was there because his friend had 2 free flights so they went to Ukraine for the weekend. No plans, no hotel reservations, oh, and his friend missed the flight. Anyway, we did exchange numbers and said good-bye.
A couple hours later I got a message from him. (Oh yeah, during our conversation we saw a minute of one of the in flight movies and made a bet about an actress. I lost the bet.) But in his message he said, I know I won the bet but can I take you to dinner anyway? I rode the metro to the city center a couple hours later and we had dinner. The first restaurant we saw was called King David. It was Kosher, how convenient. We spent about 6 more hours together, then, had to say good-bye, again. He wanted to meet the next morning for breakfast, but I declined. I felt like maybe after our dinner conversation he…I don’t know…he wanted to spend more time with me and I was ready to say good-bye. I guess I didn’t necessarily want to, but I didn’t want anything more than the level that we initially connected on. So that was it. Ironically as he was walking me to the metro we passed a Jewish Synagogue and an LDS Church that are right across the street from each other. To make the good-bye a little more light hearted I said, pointing to each of the buildings, “Now you know everything about them, and I know everything about them and neither of us are converting.” He just smiled and gave me a big hug and I was on my way.
Why do we meet people like that? Is it just to keep life interesting? Is there something that both parties should learn and take from each other? Or is it just total randomness that means nothing and doesn’t need to mean anything?