“To You”

One of my favorite poems from Walt Whitman:

“To You

Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me,
why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?”

This is how I tried to operate while I traveled.

Too often, people think they will look weird or creepy if they just talk to random strangers on the street. How often have you simply wanted to know what someone is doing or complement someone on something they’re wearing or tell the person nearest you some interesting musing that popped in your head or just say “hi” to someone that looks kind or fascinating? I don’t know about you, but for me it’s pretty often.

But more times than not I don’t say anything because I’m scared. But when I have done it or someone has done it to me, it was great.

In Bath, England a family wandered away to do something and left their dad behind on a bench. I was sitting next to him. We just started talking for no particular reason. His family returned with fudge and gave me a piece. Free fudge!

In Asheville, North Carolina I was walking around the city with my backpack on the way to the airport and a guy just walked right up to me and asked, “How long have you been traveling for?” It was a guy I had observed quizzically over the last hour as he sat near me in the market square, devouring a whole cooked chicken with his hands by himself accompanied by a full, brand-new bottle of barbecue sauce. I found out he’s a traveler, too, and an AmeriCorps volunteer. I never got an explanation for the chicken, but it was fun. Cool guy.

This is how I tried to operate while I traveled and how I want to be at home, too.


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