Stranger things have happened than what happened yesterday evening. Yet, still, falling asleep with some new friends on the beach whilst being serenaded by local Indonesian called Sol shouldn’t seem all that normal. Dancing to Reggaton at a reggae bar on an island where you can’t go swimming shouldn’t be what I expect to experience during international travels. Even being gifted a fresh banana off a tree when its 3 am and your really hungry yet everything’s closed should should still throw me off guard–but it doesn’t. This isn’t the first time I have found myself in a new place, with new people, a new language, and no idea what is going on. Yet last night reminded me of something I had seem to have forgotten–I am completely and utterly out of my element.
Being able to say hello and how are you, doesn’t make me a local. Being invited to join my guest house family for a sunset picnic doesn’t mean I immediately fit in. However, something has changed in my approach the more time I have spent abroad. Having no foreseeable plans, expectations, or preconceptions, these new and often strange experiences are my life. When I get asked when I live, I have no real answer. If you were to ask me who my friends are, I would gesture all around me to any new smiling faces I happen to have chatted up that day. This is my standard, normal, everyday.
When I think about how I have gotten to this mental space, I know it did not happen over night. My up for whatever attitude has been shaped by good friends who have challenge me, as well as experiences that should have had me running home or feeling uncomfortable. To be able to say as I walked home last evening that “Stranger things have happened,” might mean that my normative scale is shifting. I question, what will phase me after a year on the road? Imagine 10 years, the stories I will share and my reactions to similar scenarios. Will I constantly be in search of something that is more exciting, more out of the ordinary, a stranger story to tell? Or does getting over the initial shock factor quicker that usual allow me to take away different elements from the same situations? While I continue to enjoy and revel in this new acceptance of strange, I wonder, what will be the next things that happens that makes me go “Wow, that was really odd?” Don’t worry, you will be the first ones to hear about it.