In the new era of Zoomland and Google Hangout family calls, there is the undeniable fact that as a human race we survived the past year because of the power of connection and shared experience. It has been a year where friends and family have come closer, though physically apart, and where the overarching theme of survival has often brought out the best in each of us. As a wanderluster and world traveler, however, I notice one ingredient of life that is absent: the accidental new connection. With restricted movement in our lives replaced by planned short excursions, there are fewer chances of having that random encounter where you get offered an umbrella during a huge downpour right outside of Penn Station in New York City by a total stranger which makes your day! Or the time when a random police officer in downtown Chicago sees your difficulty in parallel parking on Wells Ave and offers to parallel park so that you can make your show at The Second City. If either of you is reading this article, know that these random acts of kindness defined my overall experience in visiting NYC and the Windy City.
As a global traveler, I have treasured random encounters and stimulating coffee shop conversations with new connections around the world. In 2018 over the December holidays, I along with two other free souls met up in Amsterdam as fellow solo travelers looking to explore and enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam. As active members of a forum of Solo Female Travelers, we discovered a few weeks before our trips that we would be in the same city on the exact same days. We met at a well-appointed Starbucks in the center of Amsterdam and spent the next three days exploring a town with no agenda, just a fresh approach to one of the most amazing cities in the world. Though we came from three different countries: UK, Germany, and the USA, our common experiences of life, work, solo traveling, and Amsterdam made it possible to continue a meaningful friendship through the trials of 2020 and 2021.
In 2019 I visited the magical city of Copenhagen where its dose of hygge and charm did not fail to disappoint. Contrary to the belief that is hard to make new friends in a Nordic country, I was delighted to discover a business like Absalon, a community lunch and dinner venue which cultivated a dynamic environment where the mission of the founders was for strangers to break bread together. Affordable prices, large community tables similar to what you see at Au Bon Pain, ping pong tables, plus a global dinner table made this one of the highlights of my trip besides the Little Mermaid. Friends that I met at that community table helped me navigate Copenhagen by bike in December, discover the less-traveled roads of this beautiful city on the water, and continue to be supportive friends till present.
I always wondered why Craigslist had a section focused on Missed Connections. Having lived through 2020 and now 2021, I have come to a new appreciation of the random but meaningful connections we can make in our journey of life and how we definitely do not want to miss them.