I enjoy talking to people, but even more than that I enjoy being talked to. If you leave me alone for twenty minutes in a public place I will know the life stories of at least two separate people. Give me an hour I will know how their parents met, the names of their children, how they ended up here, and what they studied in school. Give me an afternoon and I will know where they were born, how they met their spouse, what they wanted to do when they grew up, and every pet they ever had- complete with how they got them, what they named them, and how they lost them. Give me a day I will know the name of their first love, a funny story about every sibling that they have, what they hate about their life now, and what they would like to do to change it. Some people collect stamps while others collect cars. I've even met a few that collected swords, shoes, records, scientific instruments, books, and even kids. I collect stories. It seems everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has something they'd like someone to know but they feel as if no one is their to listen, or if they do have someone to talk to they feel as if that person doesn't understand. I wouldn't be able to do what I do if people felt like they were always being heard.
My favorite teacher in high school told me that there are a set number of things about people that just are. Some of them everyone else can see but that you are blind to, while other things only you can see. Some things everyone can see -including yourself- and some things only God can see. I'd like to add that there are some things that only complete strangers can see.
I met a very nice woman, sitting on the banks of America at Disneyland while we were saving seats, awaiting the eventual arrival of Fantasmic. She told me that she was here for her one year anniversary with her husband, her daughter, and his daughter. She seemed very down to earth and extremely conservative so I assumed that she was widowed.
After a few hours of conversation (yes, the wait for Fantasmic is usually this long, but completely worth it) she mentioned her ex-husband. I didn't say anything because although it surprised me, it was not unusual in this world. Normally when women discuss their ex-husbands they are bitter, angry, longing, and frequently they speak with a tinge of regret. She was unique in that she did not have any of these characteristics- instead she was just sad. Still, I didn't ask. Believe it or not, as nosy as I am, I don't actually like to pry. I like to see what people want to tell me when I am meeting strangers.
About two hours later when I was discussing that people tend to think I am older than I actually am (she had mistaken my at the time ten-year-old sister and twelve-year-old brother for my son and daughter) she brought up that she had that same experience once. I chuckled because I was seventeen then and I was pretty sure that was one of the funnier instances of mistaken age I had had in a long time.
She said that once she had been mistaken for her ex-husband's mother. I thought that was odd because she was very pretty, fairly young, and didn't seem to act particularly old at all. She mentioned that someone at a photo mart had lost her photos and she had gone a little crazy. I don't pretend to understand people who go crazy at stores but I didn't comment. She said that they had lost her pictures and they could not be replaced because they were the photos from her son's funeral. The son she had lost with her first husband. The child that made it so hard for her to smile when she thought of her first husband. Suddenly it all made sense.
Sometimes I hug complete strangers. Sometimes they are surprised and sometimes they don't say anything. Sometimes we just need someone to remind us that we are loved- not because we did something to earn it or deserve it, but because we are. Sometimes we show our scars on our faces, on our hands, on our bodies, where everyone can see them. But the worst scars, that cut the deepest and are the hardest to see and to heal, are the ones on our hearts.