Meeting people is unavoidable. Knowing people is optional.
When I travel, making friends is not really on my agenda. I know that the people I meet, who mostly are travelers themselves, are not in the normal contexts of their lives. They could be humble and laid-back when they travel, but amazing and grand back home in their daily lives. Case in point: Harvard kid. Besides, what are the chances that I will meet them again? When will I see Evelyn and Eckhart from Austria again? or Leah and Neil from Minnesota? or Escarlos from Murcia, Spain? Even the locals of the places I visited, I doubt that I will bump into my previous guides, drivers, and hotel/hostel keepers in the future. It’s possible, but the chances are slim.
So I keep the conversations I have with them light and cordial, more about ideas and experiences than personal circumstances. I abide by the Golden Rule. I would always ask myself, “Is this something that I want him/her to know about me?” If the answer is “no,” then I have no business asking the same. I don’t ask for e-mails or add them on Facebook. I don’t even give my business card. Although traveling is a good way to expand one’s network, I feel that people are more open and receptive to others if they are just genuinely in the moment. No ulterior motives. No hanky-panky. No bullshit. At the very least, I am honest at all times, because you can never tell. The world is small.
But I broke a lot of the foregoing rules recently. I did not only meet someone, I tried to know him. It’s hard because I see a great deal of myself in him. My old self, at least. I’m confused. I don’t know if I am attracted to the person or I am just missing my old self. In any case, I should not entertain such feelings. He is far away and more importantly, he doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about me. And about my old self, she didn’t have the autonomy to be awesome. She was ordinary and simple. She believed in routines. She was her job and did not think she could be anything else. And this person makes me think that there’s nothing wrong with her, that my old self can thrive and life will still turn out fine.