Our Shared Connection...

On a scorching summer day about ten years ago, I stopped at a convenience store in Santa Monica to buy a bottle of water. At that time, I was in the area about once a week and would stop in to buy water every time. After my first visit, I was convinced that I am somehow connected to the sweet woman behind the counter because we embrace and smile ear-to-ear each time we see each other. The beautiful ocean breeze, waves crashing in, seeing my lovely friend behind the counter, and my cold bottle of water make my forty-five-minute pilgrimage to Santa Monica even better.

She’s always really busy at the store so we’ve never had the chance to share a lot about of lives. Then, this past week, I was in Santa Monica for a quick hour and stopped in to say hello to my friend. She saw me, smiled, and gave me a huge hug from behind the counter and said, “I’m moving to Arizona so I won’t see you again!” All I heard was, “I’m never going to see you again!” It was our final goodbye and I could have missed it if I didn’t stop by. But, who is she? Why didn’t I get to know her better? Are the only things we needed to know were that we became instant friends the minute we met and that we felt like long-lost sisters every time we saw each other?

I paid for my water and we embraced and she grabbed both of my hands and said, “you look happy. Good luck.” A knot in my throat didn’t allow me to say anything other than, “Awe, I’m going to miss seeing you. Good luck.” A long line of people waited impatiently behind me. I walked away as if I was sending a sister off to another life and would never see her again. I drove off in a daze wondering if I should have known more about her life other than she was married with kids and that she worked at the convenience store in Santa Monica. I had a meeting and couldn’t be late so I didn’t drive back to ask to take a picture, but I felt like I should have taken a picture with her. Later that day, I told my husband that I felt sad to know that I would never see my friend again. He thought it was odd that I felt this way, but I think it’s a true testament to humanity’s real story of connection and empathy--we’re all supposed to connect at a higher level and have relentless empathy for each other but labels and judgment get in the way of it. This friendship gave me hope and reminded me that we can always have love and empathy for others without needing to know much about each other because as Ram Dass said, "When all is said and done, we're really just all walking each other home."

In hope, I am fearless.


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