Strangers connecting

Strangers connecting

There is something bizarrely special about meeting someone, a stranger, for the first time when openness and honesty warmly greet me. It doesn’t happen often and when it does I know it’s something to celebrate.


A couple of days ago I started a new two-week contract in London and had a handover with the woman I was temporarily relieving. The moment she sat me down with a cup of herbal tea I asked Mary, originally from America, if she would be returning. She hesitated and said she didn’t know yet. That was all it took. We instantly moved from work to personal. “I was living in Denmark for 3 years until Dane shattered my world. I needed money so I returned to London. And here I am unable to settle…” She told me a bit more about her time in London. We got on to the subject of children. I asked her if she had any. “Just over 2 years ago, we were planning to marry and get pregnant but 5 miscarriages later, and just when Denmark started charging for IVF we went to Prague as the treatment there’s cheaper. This is when I found out he was doing Internet dating.” She explained that he stopped when she confronted him and said she was going back to London to give each other some space. While she was in London he sent her a text to tell her not to return. “How do you ever get over something like that?” I said, not intending it to be out loud. “I’ll let you know when I do.”


Mary’s friend, British Mel, also her ex-boss arrived to give her a lift across London. Mary introduced us and informed Mel that we had been chatting about heartbreaks. Mary excused herself to collect the rest of her belongings and left Mel and me to chat. She had her first child at 37 years and second at 42 years. She’d been dating all over the place but wasn’t meeting anyone worthwhile yet wanted a baby so badly. “I promised myself that the next man that came along I’d have a child with no matter what because I simply couldn’t wait any longer.” So, she did. He wasn’t right for her but her desire for a child was stronger than anything. A year after they were married and 6 months while she was pregnant her husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “He drives me fucking bonkers but we’ve been married for 26 years. And I’ve learned how to make my own happiness.”


An ex-colleague of mine, a colleague I didn’t have much to do with until right at the end. She highly commended me for leaving a job that only distressed me and thought I was the most adventurous person she’d met, wishing we’d been friends a lot earlier. Suddenly she was revealing more of her body to me. She recently turned 50 and had a tattoo at the top of her right inner thigh and she thought I’d love to see it. Okay, I said. There she was lifting her skirt up to her waist and revealing a tattoo of some flower. I saw some of her flower too… She requested to keep in contact with me via Facebook and we truly have kept in contact. She’s revealed everything to me over the last few months and admitted she’s also been deeply unhappy at work. She plans to quit early next year and do exactly what I’ve done – leave South Africa and return to the United Kingdom as her parents live in Lancashire.


I love how the openness and raw honesty connects me to a person instantly. Listening and watching someone, you’ve never before made contact with and probably would never see again, bare their soul to me and then returning the baring, but only parts, makes me feel liberated, powerful. To know so much about someone and so soon makes me feel exceptionally trustworthy. It’s almost proof that I am.




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