Herd of Human: connecting with strangers

I was waiting for the bus a few weeks ago, when it was still very cold. I was waiting at the stop with a young guy. We both kept changing sides of the bus stop so as to avoid the wind. We must have waited there for ten minutes, each performing this perfectly-synced but unchoreographed dance around the stop and its shelter. We’d catch each others’ eye every now and then and exchange a “oh this cold!” expression.

At last a bus trundled down the street towards us, but my heart sank and I let out a very audible sigh when I realized it wasn’t the one I needed. It was his though, so he stuck out his hand to wave it down, but as he heard my sigh, he began texting ferociously. “Perhaps alerting whoever was waiting he was getting on the bus,” I thought. And as he boarded, he turned to me to say, “Your bus should be here in five minutes.”

He’d been using the text service to look up when the next bus I could take was going to arrive. I thanked him as the bus doors shut, and we both waved as he was carried off to his destination.

We didn’t really talk at all. I don’t know his name. He was probably 16 years old. But that brief connection was really warming.

When people ask me how I like living in the city, I used to say that it was a big change from my rural ways, and I usually said it with a heaviness. And although I miss the song that the beautiful landscape of the Hudson Valley put in my heart, I’m learning to sing a new one.

Living in the city has become an opportunity to connect with other people in ways I did not experience in the country side. It’s simply because there are so many more people and so many more possible interactions, that I find myself constantly surrounded with the opportunity for connection, even if it’s just a brief moment between two humans.

Somehow kissing a stranger is the exact same feeling.