Lent Observations 30

(Wow, how did it get to day 30?!)

Today saw me fly to America. Edinburgh – London Heathrow – Philadelphia. Today saw me drive 120 miles from Philadelphia – a wee town in Maryland. This was my first time driving on the wrong side of the road. I was awake for over 20 hours. So — I had a lot to observe!

On my second flight, from Heathrow to Philadelphia, I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me. I was in the aisle seat. There was a guy at the window seat. There was room to stretch out and places to put all my many snacks.

The guy next to me was lovely. It is very unlike me to talk to someone I don’t know, especially for any length of time. I’m an introvert. I’m Scottish. I’m not one for small talk.

However, we chatted.

We chatted on and off for hours. We watched a film each. We ate food. We tried to snooze. I did sudoku. But we chatted.

He was 24. He was from Edinburgh but had been living in Dundee for quite some time. He’s a personal trainer – self employed. He unfortunately lost his mum aged only 14. His aunt and uncle moved from Canada to look after him. I don’t know about his dad (I was too Scottish to ask!). He was moving to just north of Philadelphia. He knew all the good places to eat in the city. He was marrying an American girl in April. They met through the fact our world can be small – through Instagram. She has a daughter. He is excited to support her and see her grow up. He is excited to get married. He was anxious to clear customs. He had two checked in bags, and his all important hand luggage which included the ‘secret envelope’ that a new visa holder has to hand to the border agency. He checked the envelope was still in his bag many times. It has cost him a lot to get to this stage – financially and emotionally. He has to get married in 90 days or he gets deported. He has bought a new car. They have just moved house. He is a great guy.

But why do I tell you all of this? I clearly learnt a lot about him in this 8 hour flight. But why should you care?

Because what I observed from this is how, when we are not even looking for it, people are put in our path through life and it just makes sense. People walk in and out of our lives. They may stay for a while. They may just pop in. They may never leave. But each meeting is important and significant. Each meeting teaches us something.

Meeting Jamie reassured me that everything will be ok. It’s normal to feel anxious about moving from our little Scotland to that big America. It’s normal to have to visas complicating your life. It’s normal to have to travel back and forth between countries for some time before life settles. It’s normal to struggle to pack up your belongings and condense them to two suitcases. It’s normal to feel like you’re leaving a lot behind – especially when someone you love is no longer around and your memories of them are mainly in Scotland. It’s normal to move for marriage. It’s normal to go through ups and downs in the process. It’s all ok. It’s normal.

A God moment? Putting this particular stranger in my path – with a spare seat and space to talk. I think so.

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