When you meet strangers what do you do? Since I was little I would happily sit next to a stranger on the bus or the Metro. I don’t know if it was because my dad was a milkman and I would see him greeting everyone in the street but I never had that apprehensive feeling that children seem to when growing up. Which has sort of stood in my favour over the years. Whenever I have found myself in a new situation or place it has helped me to break the ice with others making myself feel at ease and often others.
Today I felt as though I needed to go and write. I have had the first line for a story in my head for a while and needed to get it written down over a decaf cappuccino. So it is I ended up at La Bottega in York. Sat in a beautiful teal suede armchair I began to write my fictional story. I was sat next to a glass cabinet filled with pens and ink for sale. Although it didn’t specify calligraphy pens, I was taken back to a memory of being around 12 or 13 when I started to learn calligraphy. My grandad bought me a set and I began to practise. I loved the way the writing looked on the paper. After 45 minutes or so a lady entered the cafe. From where I was sat I could see who was coming in and out. She greeted the guys behind the counter and came to take a seat next to me. She didn’t want to disturb my writing and I told her I had more or less finished for the day and was hapy to chat. As she sat she pointed at a sign on a plant nearby. “Have you seen what that says?” she asked me. I looked at the sign and read, La Bottega. ” “The name of this place” she told me. I wondered what the significance was and she went on to tell me the story
” My son, Jack, used to come in here and would enjoy a cuppa. He wrote this the last time he was here. When he left his parting words were, see you in the spring. He never came back. Several weeks later he died. Six days before Xmas he passed of lymphona” This lady, to me, looked late 60’s so I thought her son must have been quite young.
“How old was he?” I asked
In my head I heard 54. ” 54″ she replied, ” He loved calligraphy” Sometimes I have to be honest this freaks me out a bit as I am like, I knew he was 54 before she said and I was thinking about calligraphy earlier. And just to top it off the date of her sons passing is my sons birthday. Some of you may be reading this and thinking, well this is all just coincidence. And maybe it is. But if these coincidences meant that I brought a sense of comfort to this lady in my words, and for just a moment she felt a safe non judgemental space to talk about the son she lost, how she continues to speak to him and watches Strictly Come Dancing with his photo as he loved it, then so be it.
I love these connections and conversations and being there for others to share their own stories where I won’t judge or call them crazy can bring a sense of peace. The next time you meet someone in a cafe or on a park bench it is worth spending the time speaking to them, you never know what insights or wisdom they may have for you and vice versa. Sometimes the greatest wisdom we receive is from someone unknown.
Have you ever met someone who has helped you on your journey? Or you have helped on theirs? i would love to hear your story!