Coffee with a Stranger


“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

-Cesare Pevase

There are some quotes that fit particular moments, and I thought this one fit for today’s event. I have always been intrigued by the way people start conversations with one another. On many account, a groundbreaker would be the weather. It would typically start like this “aren’t you cold in your black tank top?” or “why are you wearing shorts in this weather?”. My answer is always the same, “I’m from Canada, this is warm”. BUT, the stranger I met today commented on greenness of my apple, a completly random comment. I was expecting him to comment on how much junk I was carrying on my back, on my accent, where I was from. He went on about why I would eat such a gross tasting thing. I told him that for the last two months I was in Africa, my sole comfort food was an apple, that is was the only thing I found to taste the same back home as it did here. I felt… Safe, I suppose, eating it. It was organic, nutritious and incredibly filling. What could be better? We got talking in the common room of Main Beach Hostel in Byron Bay. This stranger was a 35 year old man from Cork, Ireland. He had been living in Australia for 12 years in Melbourne, loving life. He was insightful, scruffy, wise, and completely charismatic. He asked if I wanted to go for coffee, as the title goes, I accepted and we walked across the road, where he proceeded to buy me a Mocha.

There was a lot to talk about for two hours. We started by talking about our wwoofing experiences on farms and about travelling to Cork, we seemed to have many things in common. He took interest in the things I had to say, wrote down the word tattooed on my back with translation and the conversation took off. We talked about where we had travelled in the world, how long we had been travelling for, our families back home, and potential future plans. You know, the typical conversation for travellers. Other conversations included hallucinogenic drugs, partying, hippie lifestyles, money budgeting, a term he called “emotion debt”, and our favorite words and there definitions. I didn’t just find this conversation typical though, I felt it sorely inspiring. Talked about literature, and about the books “War and Peace”, “On the Road”, “Into the Wild”, “Middlemarch” and so on. We also discussed the feeling of opening a good book, rather than reading on an IPad and how good quotes from books deserved to be remembered and need to be recorded in a journal. He showed me his journal, which was completely full. Full of moments, ideas, quotes, and to do’s. He gave me a brief lesson on how to organize a journal with an index and page numbers, and how journals should not just be used for recording everyday adventures but for random thoughts, even if they don’t make much sense at the time, they can come back and play significant roles in an entry.

About three days ago I bought a package of three notebooks from a store, two were in use out of three. The least I could do for this man who had a full journal, inspired me and bought me a coffee was to give him the last journal. I handed it to him, thanked him and gave him a hug as I said goodbye.

From this conversation, I have found that it is essential for me to have a journal and that I couldn’t go without. It will keep me from forgetting, help me to remember, give me comfort when I am alone, plan my journeys, and cherish these strangers by writing down everything they have taught me. Absolute highlight of my day. Thanks Kieran.


3 responses »

  1. You are so beautiful, strong,smart,kind. You have amazed me each and everyday.I love what you have written….keep writing. I love you and miss you. Carpe

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