Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Australian I Met on the Other Side of the World

When I was a child, I would go to bed and think about China. I would think that as I lay in bed, they're probably on a chair, at school or work.  Here I was, about to sleep, putting whatever worries I had during the day to bed. And the Chinese were already up battling their demons. I felt a little bad for them. I wanted them to be sleeping too. So I stayed awake for a few minutes. My room looked dark and the light from the street lights coming in made the various objects on my counter cast large shadows. Moisturizers, containers, and picture frames. I was scared. I wished I was in China, where the sun's light was already seeping through the windows. Half of the world was already buzzing. Like being first in line. The first person doesn't know what to expect. But the second person is a little at ease.

(To China!)

I couldn't sleep one night about a year ago.  So I went on the internet and looked up videos of my favorite cartoon as a kid. I hadn't watched it in so long. Dragon Ball Z. YouTube only had clips, so I had to look elsewhere. I googled "dragon ball z episodes" and found a site that had them all. Along with the videos, you could also chat with people watching them, but you needed an account. I didn't get one right away, but eventually I did. The chat wasn't part of the website. It was from some other website that was embedded into it. So if you had an account, you could talk to other people, not just the ones looking at the DBZ videos.

It was winter and I again couldn't sleep. I only had one cover and I was freezing. My house is always cold for some reason. I grasped my feet to keep them warm. I buried my nose into my pillow and breathed out to make it warm. I grabbed my laptop and went online again. More Dragon Ball Z because I'm such a dork. But, out of curiosity, I went into the main chat site that I had my account on. Chat sites are scary places. It's like walking into a masquerade party. People hide who they really are. They dance with complete strangers. They fall in love with them too. They don't like who they are in real life, so they start over. Maybe they're wearing an ugly sweater of shame. You could be from Mars if you wanted to. I have terrible experiences from using chat sites, but that's for another post. I saw this girl from Australia there. She was beautiful. Golden blonde hair and the nicest smile. So of course, I started talking to her.

(Waking up in the middle of the night is the worst!)

I was surprised that she was a really nice person. I immediately had a crush on her. Because that's how stupid I am. That's how I'm programmed. But it was just that. I didn't think much of it. She was in some distant country frolicking with the kangaroos I thought. But I saw her as a friend. I saw her as a stranger. And we met in the middle of this enormous outback called the internet. I have to admit, it's weird. I still think it's weird. Meeting someone online. But anyway, she was a triplet with two brothers. Her parents were divorced. I learned  a lot about Australia. And I told her about Chicago.

The world is huge. It's scary. I'm afraid to be alone. I like having friends to lean on when I'm limping. So Molly, if I ever get stranded in Australia for some wild reason, please make me feel not alone. Often, the friends you remember the most are the ones you don't expect. The ones who say the least. The ones who you used to hate. Or the ones who are on the other side of the world.

(Molly from Australia)

Every night I couldn't sleep I would meet her there. Everyone asleep. But it was daytime in Australia. Winter here and Summer there. I found it weird how they could have Christmas in the Summer, where over here, Christmas is characterized with snow and mittens and hats. Snowmen. But I thought about it. Seeing all of the Christmas decorations in the Summer sounds great too. Imagine walking through the city on a Summer day and seeing Christmas lights and colorful spheres. Decorated trees and bells. She showed me pictures of Sydney. The Opera House looked amazing. She thought my interest in Australia was a little odd.

They call McDonald's "Maccas" while we say "Mickey D's." I can't imagine myself saying Maccas. It's like it's a whole other world. Everything seems backwards over there. The snow they step on is warm and next to the ocean. Their snowmen are castles.

I'm glad I met her. A couple of years ago, I had never even seen an Australian. I'm glad I've met all of the wonderful people in my life so far. I'm glad for hearing all of their great stories. And I wonder about all of the people I haven't met yet. About that mysterious force that brings two strangers together, even if their lives are completely different. Like looking out your window at three in the morning and seeing a lonely car drive by. Catching it just at the right moment by chance.

christmas tree Sydney Australia
(Christmas tree in Sydney. Looks like it's gonna rain haha.)

Molly, thanks for being that car while I looked out the window. I was getting a glass of water. I'm glad I ran after you and told you stop. You were probably scared to roll down your window since it was three in the morning. And even though you could have pressed the gas pedal and leave me on the street, you didn't. You gave me a ride along Australia. And you dropped me off at my house and got my mind off China. I hope one day you get out of the car though.

You meet people you don't expect. You meet strangers on the other side of the world. Meet as many people as you can. Learn from them. And keep an open mind. Strangers have a way of smoothing out even the roughest stones. So go to sleep. Don't worry. One day, we will all sleep at the same time. At eleven at night. We will agree on that time. There will be no Eastern time or Western time. Just time. The only shadows will be those of another time. A simpler time. A more hectic time. And we will all say Merry Christmas in the morning. With snow under our feet. Yet our feet wont be cold.


Have you ever met someone you didn't expect?

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Give to be Remembered

I was on my porch, sitting on a chair one night. I don't usually do that, but it was a cloudy night and I love the smell of moisture in the air. My eyes felt tired. They had that "just got up" feeling. It's weird to feel that at night. I saw a friend walk right by my house. His name was Luis. He had red hair, freckles and pointy ears. If he was wearing all green, you'd think he was an elf. He was about four years younger than I was. We used to play soccer together in an alley with a lot of our friends. But as time went on, we played less and less. I hadn't seen him in years.

"Luis!" I stood up, walked down the stairs and went over to him. He was about four inches taller than me now. A tall elf. He was surprised to see me. And I don't know why, but I offered to buy him a donut at Dunkin' Donuts. "Sure," he said. I bought a small coffee myself and we sat by the window. It was almost 10 o'clock. There were about four people in there. One in particular was alone. Just sitting there with a large coffee and his big brown coat. I wonder what was troubling that man. Just then, it started raining. I like the rain. Luis and I talked about nothing important. We reminded ourselves about the stupid things we did in that alley. But that's for another post. We walked home when the rain had calmed down a bit. He thanked me for the donut. We said bye, shook hands and that was that.

(This is what it looked like.)

A few days later, I was playing soccer in the same alley. My friends and I got together for old times sake. We were all just sitting down on garbage cans because the ball got stuck on the flat roof of a garage. It always gets stuck there. It's a big garage. It has three doors. So no one wanted to climb it to get it. I saw Luis cross the alley and I yelled his name. I told him what happened. "I'll get it, but only because you bought me that donut." We laughed. He got up there and threw the ball down. I told him if he wanted to play, but he couldn't. He walked away.

Another time, I went over to a parking lot. My friends were playing soccer there (yes, we played soccer a lot.) There was this guy there who nobody wanted in their team. His legs were double jointed and he couldn't kick very well. His name was Oscar. He always had a bright attitude though. When I got there, they replaced him with me only I didn't know. In the middle of the game, I looked over and saw him standing by a fence. Just watching. I realized I had just ruined his day. He probably walked here from home and was excited to play. He was excited that there was just enough people here for him to play without being an "extra" and be left out. He was probably cursing at me as I ran. I know I would have. So I stopped running. I walked over to him and said, "Go ahead, we'll take turns." He smiled. "Cool, thanks dude," and he jogged to the middle of the parking lot with his shaky legs. One of my friends playing joked and said I was gentleman. It felt good.

Then, something happened. One of the guys playing walked towards me and said, "you want to take my spot? I'm not playing anymore." Yes, I said. I jogged over there with a smile. It's as if the universe had bent to my kindness.

(We used to use trash cans as goalie posts.)

Some angel was probably watching and said. "Hey hey hey. Get me God on line one. I just saw a kid here who did an act of kindness."

Then some angel secretary would call God. The line would be busy of course. But he's God, so he returned the call right away. "What happened?" God would say. And the angel would tell him everything. Then God would say, "Thanks, I'll take care of it." He would then make one of the guys too tired to play so that he would sit this one out.

Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, but that's how it went in my head.

The universe is strange. Nobody really knows how it works. But it's like it wants to bend things for those that it likes. It seems to sense everything you do. Your lies. Your anger. Your sadness. And for some reason, giving, makes it bend things for you. Maybe not instantly, but it's working on it. It remembers you. It moves things around to make your life easier.

(The universe remembers what you do.)

People also remember the givers, not the takers. So give away. At school. At work. People will remember. And even if it's years later, they'll help you if you need it. Or they'll give back because they remember you.

One of my favorite authors used to give Google as an example. Google itself has no real content. It just gives you a list of people who are better than it at answering the question you asked. And yet, we keep going back to Google because it's honest. Because it's generous. Those are the type of people we go back to every time. It's the most famous website in the world. And it's empty. Ask it anything. It doesn't know the answer. But it can give you the information of people who do.

The universe likes Google. I like Google. So I'm going to practice giving right this moment. Ask me any question, about anything in the world. Troubles you might have. Opinions you want. Or even advice. Fire away.

And hopefully you'll remember me one day. If I'm ever homeless on the street, dirty, with ripped pants and a starving look in my face, please put a quarter in my cup. And I'll remember you as well.

My friend.