I love the suburbs. I really do. Give me a pain in the neck yard to take care of, a person walking their goat around town on a leash, and a folksy country fair any day. I find cities to be largely intimidating and confusing and most of the time I just want to go home and sit on my couch and listen to the crickets.
But that being said, the strangers you run into in the city and/or commuting into the city are the best. They give each day a little “oh man, people are awesome” energy and there will always be a special place in my heart for some of my all time Boston favorites.
My Favorite Boston Strangers, In No Particular Order
Man in a business suit walking down the sidewalk eating corn on the cob at 7:30am
Elderly man slaying a drum solo on his steering wheel in traffic, with actual drum sticks
Ninja biker, rocking the shortest shorts I ever did see, the best ninja sweatband I ever did see, and riding his bike around the city slower than I ever thought possible, every day
Woman who accompanies train stop musicians without their permission on her recorder… her RECORDER
Guy who threw a banana peel out of his car window on Route 2, causing me to giggle at my own joke about holding three red shells for the next 20 minutes
Keytar Bear – of course Keytar Bear
There are so many more and they are all incredible. I hope they never change. Because of them I have a life goal, to be a stranger someone blogs about. Or tweets about. Or casually mentions to their coworkers when they get into work. But like, in a good way. Hopefully that provides some more clarity to why I’m oddly proud of this story. Or this one.
How Did We Get There From Here?
But I’m not sure I’ve found the golden ticket quite yet. At least nothing that will top 2012 Kayla, who technically still qualifies as a commuting stranger because she was my row-mate on a flight for a work trip.
Kayla was 8 years old and traveling with her parents and brother across the country from San Francisco to Boston. Her family was sitting in the row behind us while Kayla settled down quite happily next to me, ready to chat. We talked about her family, school, Taylor Swift, religion, politics, the usual. But then Kayla made it weird.
Kayla: Did you know that Michael Jackson died?
Me: Yeah, he did… That was sad.
Kayla: What happened?
Me: Ummmm, well… (casually looks around for another adult to handle this) I think he was sick…
Kayla: (Pause) He did drugs.
Fortunately she then quickly changed courses to discuss favorite color combinations before I had to dig deep into the archives of DARE class or grow eyes in the back of my head in order to stare at her mother with panic without causing Kayla to panic.
No One Everyone is Watching
I didn’t know it at the time but now I’m quite sure Kayla was giving me a glimpse into how my children are going to interact with the world. And I’m pretty excited about that combination of friendly and odd.
Not that I am necessarily cheering for my kids to talk about dead celebrities and drug use with strangers, but based on their freakishly good memories, rapidly expanding vocabularies, and enthusiasm for people, something along these lines is not that far off base. Maybe I can live out my “stranger being awesome” dream through them.
So whether you’re a city dweller or rocking the suburbs, I hope that 2018 brings you a whole lot of wonderfully weird people. While one can argue that you need a little normal too in order to make the world go round, the wonderfully weird sure do make a trip around the sun a lot more entertaining. Happy New Year, y’all!
With a good feeling that the best strangers are still yet to come,