At the airport in Montreal, an elderly couple sat down next to me. The woman had a round face with big smile lines spreading from her eyes. Her thin, nervous looking husband split an apple in half and shared it with her. although I had my headphones in, I wasn’t listening to anything. she turns to me and began to speak. Her English was good but not perfect. she asked me about my travel and they told her I think she understood what I was saying. she try to explain her trip with her husband. They had spent some time in the US and were headed back to Amsterdam. She told me how they had been in the airport for hours and hours and would still be there for several hours after I left. As is typical when I talk to strangers, I felt uncomfortable. Even though it wasn’t very personal information, it seemed to be implying a relationship between the two of us that I couldn’t discern. I was happy to talk to her, but once I had exhausted the details of my travel itinerary, I didn’t know what else to say. In the awkward silence, I went back to reading my book.
Later, as the plane flew out of Montreal and I looked over the bright lights of the city, I thought how strange it was that she would want to engage with me in that way. I wish that I could have been more open and shared more about what I was doing. I think a huge aspect of this pilgrimage is the connection to other people. This kind old lady reminded me that I need to make more of an effort to connect with those around me.
I’ll try harder next time.