Last weekend, my husband and I went to the west Texas Big Bend National Park to spend a few days. To say that we stuck out like sore thumbs would be the understatement of the century: in a world of cowboy hats and Texan drawls, Marcus and I, with our funny accents and city-slicker ways clearly didn’t belong in any of the small towns we were visiting.
(See Exhibit A, below.)
When we arrived at the hotel we’d booked for the weekend, after unpacking our car, we approached the bar — it appeared to be full of locals, not tourists, and I was admittedly very self-conscious of how different we looked as we sat down.
About 10 minutes in, one of the men near us spoke.
“So, where y’all from?”
“Houston,” I said, almost apologetically. For some reason, I felt like we were intruding.
“Houston!” he said loudly. “I used to live there! Dang, you guys must be happy to get out here for some peace and quiet!” He laughed, and his eyes twinkled. We immediately relaxed.
For the next 30 minutes, he engaged us: he spent time asking what we were hoping to see, he was sure to describe all the attractions. He called his wife over, and she warmly greeted us, as well. Finally, a half-hour later, the host from the restaurant next door tapped him on the shoulder.
“Your table’s ready, sir.”
He shook our hands. “Well, we gotta go. It was nice meeting you! Enjoy your time out here!”
“We will, thank you!”
Marcus and I returned to our drinks, remarking how amazingly friendly they were. About 10 minutes later, we asked the bartender for the tab.
“You’re all good,” he said. “The gentlemen you were speaking with took care of you.”
We never even got his name.
It was such a wonderful reminder that we all, everywhere, crave connection with people — more importantly, we can connect with people. We not that different from each other, no matter where we call home, or how we appear. We’re interconnected.
The experience reminded me of this fantastic video featuring Bobby McFerrin (of unfortunate “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” fame). In this video, he gives a great musical demonstration of how interconnected we all are — and how sometimes, it just takes peeking below the surface.
And so, as summer begins, just a little reminder to take a risk to reach out to each other.