Monday, February 27, 2017

Loss of Conversation

There used to be something that was easy to do when I was abroad. Granted, I don't know if one can count Korea, as it was always a little easier to meet people in Korea, became if you were not Korean you were always looking to meet someone.

These last few trips, though, I realized that one of my favorite things is happening less and less: meeting people in bars.

Maybe this is a consequences of the technology age. It was always a challenge to meet and talk to stranger, I think. This has not stopped being a challenging but the invention of the smart phone, the tablet, the little laptop, the Google glad, the keep me plugged in all the time and don't talk to me box that creates a wall between the user and the world.

I see it everywhere. All the time. Not blameless, either, as I will willfully indulge my ebook if I'm alone and there is no one to talk to, however, I try to make an effort to meet people if there are people around to meet.

Maybe it is that my last few months of traveling have concentrated heavily in Spanish speaking countries where everyone who might want to meet me gets quickly dissuaded when they realize that I don't speak Spanish.

But even in London I have found it difficult to just go to a bar and have a causal conversation with a stranger. Bars could ban ebooks and only allow you to read if you have a book with a title. A conversation starter, it would be. Interrupt me and ask what I'm reading? Or tell me about your experience.

It won't happen. Drinking solemnly into tablet will keep you at a bar a long time. The money is better. Less chance for a fight to breakout maybe.

Of course, people still talk but only people who have already come with people. People who have found people, or have friend, or went to grammar school with someone they can't imagine being apart from.

This leaves me. Traveler. Wanderer. There are no childhood friends lingering in distant countries waiting to meet me. The few people I know abroad have families and it can be difficult to meet in public.

Not me. I'm forty.

I go out. I can only thank the goddess that I'm just as happy to go out by myself as I am with people, but I admit to missing the adventure of friends for an hour, or a night, or a minute whirl we ponder what brought us to this place and time, the journey we have taken and how our journey is unique, our own. That being human means we can share if we want to.

I miss staring into the eyes of others, without the glare.

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