I am very often a victim of nostalgia and reminiscence.
Traces of a smell could send me a thousand miles away, riding on waves of memory. A faded bus ticket could quite easily bring tears to my eyes. Very often I find myself looking through photos for no reason at all, except to amuse and satisfy that part of me which craves remembrance. At times, relying simply on memory is not enough. I guess that’s why we buy souvenirs and memorabilia. That’s why I was always so keen to take as many photos as my cell phone would allow. I believe in appeasing nostalgia when it hits.
On one of my trips as a flight attendant to Bangkok, I made friends with a wonderful Greek girl with the strangest American accent. She was sweet, charming, outgoing and extremely nice to anyone she met. It came as a surprise therefore when at the end of the stay she told me that she hadn’t left her hotel room. When I asked why she said that if she really wanted to travel, she’d do it with people she knew. She told me she didn’t want to fill up her facebook and Instagram with faces of people whose names she’d never remember or care to. She was only there to do her job. Looking back, I wonder if there was something cracking behind that friendly facade. Although I could, in some way, understand what she was feeling, I was dead certain she was going the wrong way about it. Now I think I know more than to judge her. Everyone has their own way to cope with separation.
I strayed from the point because as I’m flicking through these photos, when I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, I see countless faces looking up at me. Faces whose names I might have forgotten but whose stories shared in the galley or their particular laugh or even the funny way they sneeze will always be impressed in my mind. But unlike my Greek friend, it doesn’t bother me at all. I wanted to dedicate this post to thank those beautiful nameless faces who have made my travels richer just by being there. From lessons learnt to a few taught (once an insufferable teacher, always an insufferable teacher), from getting lost to finding our way back together, from discovering new angles for better selfies to exchanging tips on how best to survive our crazy lifestyle. I will be forever grateful to these people who made the effort to get to know me better, despite the fact that we all knew we would probably never see each other again.
“Happiness Only real when Shared”. This is where the quote written by Christopher McCandless comes in. I believe that people need other people to be happy. It’s one of the most fundamental things I have learnt, especially towards the end when I was ready to hang up my wings. You can be comfortable in your own skin and at ease with yourself. You may even feel good when you’re alone. I lost count of how many times I roamed the streets of a city on my own and I definitely wasn’t sad. But true happiness, real happiness is only found when you share that good moment with someone else. A glorious sunset, a fine meal, fireworks, a baby lion tugging at your sleeve. When you’ve got someone with you, someone you feel good with, that memory will be enhanced and you will be all the more likely to remember it simply because you were happier. Think about it for a while. Think of how, when something truly amazing happens, you just can’t wait to share it with someone else. Happiness begets happiness and the good act which happened to you is multiplied ten-fold.
And here they are. Thank you for substituting the friends I had left behind. Your smiles still light up my photo albums. And although I can’t remember your names, I remember how even if for a brief, finite moment you made me feel happy and comfortable in a life which could get very lonely. And that’s all that really matters.