This is a guest post by Randi of Foreign Quang. It came about after an exchange we had in her comment boxes. It’s long, it’s lovely and it moved me to tears, something which Randi’s open heart, sincerity and refreshing style often do. Please put the kettle on and savour this. I will be doing more guest posts in the future so let me know if there’s something you’d like to share with our community.
The Journey is No Fun Alone
by Randi of Foreign Quang
A couple of weeks ago I was doing dishes when I started to pay attention to a TV show that was playing in the background. My ten-year old son had been watching something, got bored, and ran outside to play, leaving the TV on as “ignored noise.”
Former gang members, now elderly, were reflecting about their involvement in the 1965-Watts riots. One of the men stated that most gang members at that time never left a ten-block radius of their homes in their entire lives. That statistic astounded me.
Traveling for me has always been an eye-opener. I’ve learned that most people are basically the same, no matter which state lines I’ve crossed. They all want to be happy in their jobs. They love their children. They want to have some peace at the end of their day. And most of them are kind to strangers.
What would life be like for a gang member who got to travel? I am certain that a person who never leaves a ten-block radius in his life has a skewed world vision. What if he was able to see that not all people were out to cause him harm? How would his perceptions change?
On my recent drive to Seattle, I learned anew about the wonder of people through those who unknowingly shared my journey.
The Seattle Mystery Man
On the morning we went to the Space Needle, a man with short dark hair shared our elevator ride. He looked like someone I had seen on TV, so he stood out from the crowd.
Later that afternoon, we were walking to a Mexican restaurant we heard had delicious food. We walked into a parking area and walking out of the same area was the man from the Space Needle. I thought it odd, after all, Seattle is home to some half a million people. What are the odds that we would run into that same man?
After eating, we headed for a Mariners baseball game. I had never been to a pro-ball game of any kind, so I was anxious to go. Guess who brushed past me in the ball game crowd? Yup. The same man. I couldn’t say whether I felt more like I was in an episode of Lost or The Twilight Zone.
How often do the same people cross our paths and we don’t notice it? And when we do notice it, what are we meant to know from it? Why are certain things or people drawn to our attention?
It has been awhile since we have lived in a big city. For the last twelve years we have lived in secluded rural America. We forget about things like having to pay to park somewhere.
When we planned our trip to Seattle, we neglected to budget for parking places. Our first trip to downtown Seattle was a shocker. We had planned on being there most of the day between the Space Needle, eating lunch and visiting the fascinating museums. The $20 price tag on our parking spot though, caused us a little deliberation.
Our discussion ended when a very nice woman pulled up and asked us if we were going to be spending the day in Seattle, and if so, had we paid for our parking? She told us that she had already paid $20 for a full day and was not going to be able to stay after all. Would we like to use her parking spot? For free? Hmmm…that was a no-brainer!
Accident? Co-Incidence? Someone looking out for us? What do you believe?
To the lady in Seattle who gave us the very generous gift, we say “Thank you.”
Even Children are Customers
Waterfalls, I am sure, are among the most majestic sights in the world. There is something about the power of falling water that intrigues even the most jaded among us.
When we pulled into our parking spot at Snoqualmie Falls, we could already hear the roar of the falls and feel the rumble under our feet. We followed the crowd toward the lookout points. Most people stood in silence, whether from awe or because trying to hear your companions was pointless anyway, I don’t know.
I could have stayed all day, watching the water as it pounded into the river below and created a mist when it crashed onto the rocks.
My son was anxious to visit the gift shop. It was the second day of our trip and he still had money to spend.
He found a display for polished rocks. The shiny blue, purple, orange and black rocks felt smooth and cool in his hand. On the display were small leather bags of varying sizes, but no prices. The store was very crowded and the only clerks available were the ones at the checkout stands, so Jeremiah waited patiently in line so that he could ask the price.
When it was finally his turn, he asked the blonde cashier about the rocks. She smiled and told him the prices of the bags and said to him, “Whichever bag you choose, make sure you pack that bag full. Get as many rocks in there as you can, OK?”
He went back and chose the smallest of the bags so that he would still have money to spend later. Again, he waited in the long line for his turn.
When he got the same cashier, she again smiled at him and made a show out of feeling his bag. “Yup, you did a good job. I don’t think I could have gotten any more rocks in there.” He felt pleased that he had done well.
To the cashier at Snoqualmie Falls who took the time in a busy day to treat a child with respect, I say “You rock!”
Positive vs. Negative
At my first professional baseball game I learned something about baseball fans. They are…um…emotional.
The Mariners started off well the night we went. I thought for sure they would beat LA. After the fifth inning though, things turned sour. The Angels came from behind and surpassed the Mariners. The fans also turned sour.
All around us we heard people shouting and muttering negative rants against the Mariners. Disgruntled fans started leaving. My son asked me why people were leaving when the game wasn’t even over and I said, “Because they’re poor sports.”
One young man stood out as a ray of light. He was about twenty years old, sitting with his family. As The Mariners did worse, his loud chants got more supportive. “C’mon, baby, you can do it. Show us what you’ve got, my brother!” He was laughing and getting all of us around him laughing too. His mom laughed and shook her head, acting a little embarrassed but he just replied with a loud, “I love you, Mama!” Every time a new batter went up, he cheered and hooted. He stayed until the game was over.
To the African American young man at the May 18 Mariners game in Seattle sitting in the nosebleed section between home and first base I say, “Thank you for showing my son what it means to be a good sport.”
A Fork in the Road
My step-daughter, Naomi is a huge fan of the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series. When she decided to go with us to Seattle, we knew that Forks, Washington would be a mandatory side-trip for us. Apparently, according to Twilight legend, when Stephenie Meyer was writing the novel, she wanted the story to take place in a dark, dismal, area, conducive to vampire activity. She searched on the internet for a place in the U.S. that had the most yearly rainfall and came up with Forks. Instead of being familiar only to Washingtonians as a good fishing spot, Forks is now known worldwide. (Pay attention budding novelists: Take a small town and make it famous.)
It takes a day of driving to get from Seattle to Forks and back, but the trip was well worth it, thanks to the residents of Forks.
Our first stop was in front of the “Welcome” sign at the town entrance. The second place we visited was the town information center. The two women working there were a credit to their town.
From the moment we walked in, Twilight memorabilia surrounded us. The lady at the counter had Naomi sign a Twilight guest book, and told us that over 5,000 visitors came last month just because of the book. They had a truck similar to the one Bella drove in the movie and had signs available, such as “We Love Edward and Bella,” to have in your photographs. We stayed awhile just listening to the stories the ladies had to tell about meeting Stephenie Meyer and their involvement in Twilight activities.
The next stop was at a store called “Dazzled by Twilight.” The store of course, carries only items related to the Twilight series. The employees were totally jazzed when we walked into the store. They had their own Twilight stories to tell, especially a blonde clerk who spoke with a foreign accent. She and Naomi traded tales and later they traded $100 in return for Twilight merchandise.
The restaurants in town won’t be left out. We saw signs for “The BellaBurger” and “Bellasagna.”
To the residents of Forks, Washington, “Thanks for making our journey worth our time.”
Tim’s sister and her husband own a copy shop in Monroe, Washington. It was a frequent stopping point during our trip.
I was impressed to see that on the way out, there is a rack full of various sizes and colors of spiral bound notepads, all for free. The sign there tells us that the notebooks are made of scrap paper that would otherwise be thrown out, so please take one. If they were to charge for them, they could easily get $1-$3 apiece.
I also left with a full box of unlined index cards in various sizes. Again, these are scraps that the store bundles with like sizes and has available at the front door. These are perfect for flash cards and note taking. Such generosity is recycling at its best.
To the Monroe Digital Copy Center we say, “Thank you for being green!”
I felt her there
Your friend and mine, Janice Hunter, was with me in spirit on my journey. Before I left, Janice encouraged me to smell the sea breeze. I couldn’t wait to comply!
On our trip to Forks, we drove along the Washington coastline. Our view of the ocean from the highway was obscured by trees most of the way. Finally, we saw snippets of ocean and decided to stop at the next rest area.
Behind the restrooms was a short trail leading to a lookout view of the Pacific. Sunlight glistened off the wet rocks below as the surf pounded the shore. The men were kind of sleepy, so Naomi and I decided to follow a different steep trail down to the beach so the kids could play. I was so glad we did.
As I neared the end of the lush fern riddled trail, the most delicious smell greeted me-a combination of sweet greenery and ocean mist. Sea breeze, I thought to myself. This is what Janice was talking about.
Toward the end of my stay in Washington I happened to check in at my blog and found more words from Janice, asking me to sip some Seattle coffee for her. Tim’s kids, Naomi and Nathan love coffee. I have never been a fan, but the challenge was there! On a couple of outings we searched for the right place to take a picture of me sipping coffee for Janice. Alas, due to time constraints we never did have the cappuccino-fest that I was hoping for. Sorry, Janice. We’ll just have to go there together some time.
To Janice, “Thanks for sharing my journey.“
Line of Duty
On the way home, we stopped at a rest area for…um…a rest. Tim pointed me to a sign, a memorial to an officer killed in the line of duty. Trooper James S. Gain was killed on the same day that Tim’s youngest son, Nathan, was born. I was touched, both by Trooper Gain’s sacrifice, and by the evidence of the circle of life. A man gives his life protecting others, and an infant enters the world.
To Trooper James S. Gain I say, “Thank you for touching my life, twenty-two years after your death.”
Lately I’ve realized that the happy news–the news that makes us excited to walk outside our door instead of lurking inside, frightened– the news that shows us that we are all really sharing the same journey, can be found on blogs. Through blogs we share the unbelievable coincidences, the unexpected miracles, and the moments of euphoria that mark our human existence. We are not alone.
Make sure the impression you leave with others makes them delighted that you shared part of their journey.
Randi, I can’t express how touched I am that you chose to share your journey with us. I hope you’ve moved other Sharing The Journey readers to do the same. This site is here to be used and enjoyed by everyone who visits – to share life journeys and real journeys.