Last Saturday was Mexican Independence Day. (Really. Look it up. It is not Cinco de Mayo.) Our favorite Mexican restaurant right next door was having a celebration and Scott got invitations for us to go. (He is in tight with some of the waiters and the hostess, who he has taught to fist-bump.) We headed over for some free beer (Corona!) and margaritas after he came home from golf. We planned to meet a friend there later.
Even though we were early there were no tables available outside in the courtyard when we arrived. We stood for a bit and saw the table near us had two extra chairs. We asked the guys if we could borrow them to sit in while we waited. They kindly invited us to join them. They were all 21, high school friends now in various stages of University study.
Each one of them were ambitious in their own way. One was in University outside of Jakarta but was hoping to go to the U.S. to study to become a pilot. The other was studying business at a University in London. The third was finishing his business course at a University outside of Jakarta and was working on a business plan to open an American-style restaurant. They had many questions about the U.S. and we had many questions about their aspirations in life. The were incredibly articulate and passionate about their chosen fields.
Our friend JB joined us and the conversation turned more towards geography. JB has lived in many places including England and he and the young man studying there talked about the places they had been. They asked us where we had traveled in Indonesia and we told them our favorite places and where we would like to go in the future. Sadly, when they asked about New York, both Scott and I had to confess we had never been to the city. Definitely something to put on our bucket list!
Being young men, they had plans for the rest of the evening and left. Before their seats had a chance to cool the waiter asked if we would mind if a few other guests joined us. We enthusiastically said, “Yes!” We were joined by a young Indonesian couple named Sasha and Michael.
They were young professionals and parents of two toddlers. Once again we found ourselves making new friends, learning about them, their lives, their work, and their family. We were joined by Michael’s friend from the magazine where he works. A lively conversation continued for the rest of the party. We said our goodbyes and exchanged numbers and emails.
The night still being young Scott, JB, and I went across the hall to the new Irish bar to play some pool. We had been in there the night before and were greeted by the manager and one of the awesome waitresses with friendly smiles and warm hellos. As we played we talked about how much we enjoyed our chance meeting with both groups of young people. The interesting range of topics was refreshing and the conversations were fun.
The next day at church as we were asked to greet each other before Mass the priest said, “There are no strangers here, only friends we have yet to meet.” I had heard that before but it really hit home after our encounters the previous night. I am glad we had the opportunity to share food and drink and great conversations with strangers that became friends.
I do believe my life is made better by the people I meet and the encounters I have. I urge anyone who has the chance to make a new friend or have a conversation with a stranger to be open, be friendly, and have your life enriched.