About six months ago, I told someone that I am shy, and the reaction of raised eyebrows, incredulous look, and guffaw, communicated that in no way did they believe my story.
“No, seriously! I am!”
“Kara! You are not shy!” Oh? Hmmm (frown of confusion)…I thought I was. (Keyword: Was)
The discussion made me actually think about the concept of shy. And, it’s true. I’m not shy anymore. My timidity has been lost and forgotten over the last three years; somewhere between Costa Rica, Scandinavia, and days in LA. Constantly interacting with new faces, telling grown-ups what to do, serving diet-cokes, and traveling has made a change in me. I know the value of a smile, love discovering those with a sense of humor, and understand how quickly opportunities for connection can arise and vanish. My life experiences have softly calloused my fears of rejection (I’m still wishing insecurities away). Amazing individuals are everywhere; one just needs to connect with the five-year old within; the part of oneself that fearlessly and enthusiastically says, “Hi! My name is______! Will you be my friend?!”
And, I kinda like that five-year old in me; the one that carries the owl lunch pail, wears Toy Story Lego earrings, and loves wearing costumes. My friend Mike described me as this the other day, and I think it’s a fairly accurate description of who I am:
Adjective cutely endearing in a very goofball, nerdy sort of way. (Or something like that).
This is what adorkable looks like
I often retell stories of, “You’ll never guess what I did!” or start sentences with “Oh my goodness…” Then, I repeat an event of the day that is so thoroughly laced with awkwardness that I even shake my head, and think “REALLY, KARA!?!” I bring that (endearing?) awkwardness to most of my interactions. I think one of the reasons I’m still single is because, Example A:
I chat up a guy so easily when I think he’s gay, and then realize, nope. This one is straight as an arrow. Oopsy. Then I’m fumbling and mumbling and all weird because he’s now flirting with me, I am blushing, and all my clever banter has vaporized. Whatever. At least I can laugh about how just so NOT cool I am. I’m coming to believe that I meet so many cool people because as they say, opposites attract.
That and I must have the Luck of an Easter Bunny:)
So, this blog is dedicated to some of my favorite and most memorable how I meet people and how I make friends moments–
The way that I make friends is by almost running over them on my bicycle. You know that double or triple sidestep when you are walking towards someone and you can’t decide a direction of right or left, leaving you, facing a stranger, in an awkward, un-choreographed jig? Well, the other day this happened. In fast-forward fashion. Picture me, riding my beach cruiser, and essentially playing chicken with an adorable 20-something brunette, who was just wanting to enjoy an uninterrupted stroll along the Southern California Strand. She didn’t realize the danger of the beach walk, when combined with crossing my path (yeah, y’all! Don’t cross me. You’ll pay:). Well, only someone as cool as she would see just as much humor in the scene as I do, and the almost catastrophe, turned into number exchanging, and a promise to watch a Nebraska football game sometime in the future. I wouldn’t recommend making friends by attempting to run people over on your bike. But for me, it apparently works really well.
I look harmless, right?
It was just my luck when one day at work, I happen to discover that one of my exit row passengers, a mid-40s man, just happened to be à la Celebrity status. Known as the first commercial astronaut, and one of only two holding such status in the world. Employed as a test pilot for Virgin Galactic, the somewhat quiet and reserved former military pilot is part of the movement to make space travel possible for Regular Joe. Pay the ticket price and you can be part of the select few of also join the exclusive Facebook Spacebook page. (I just mentioned that cause I find it really funny for some reason).
It took me a minute, in the conversation to think through who exactly this passenger I was causally chatting with worked for (wait?!? was it Richard Bronson? Bransen..Branson?), and what I was assuming that he did (ok…so doesn’t Galactic mean Space? And this guy probably flies there, right?!). Finally, I risked looking like the blonde, and I inquired into what exactly working for Virgin Galactic means. “So, you fly to space, riiiiggght? And, there aren’t very many of you around, yeeeahhh?” He responded, with a nod, uh huh, and handed me his business card. I snatched it like someone had just handed me a gold brick, eyes wide and utterly entranced by the shiny photo of the space craft. He had just reached all out celebrity fantastic. I loudly and excitedly repeated way too many times, “You are just TOO cool right now! Oh my goodness!! Seriously?! I’m meeting you right now!?!” (That’s when I realized that I hadn’t actually introduced myself, or technically met him. Puh-tay-toe, Pah-TAH-TOE!) He smiled slightly, a combination of humility and accomplishment, chuckling at my animated reaction. Not that I’ll probably go on one of his flights until someone actually hands me a few gold bricks, but simply meeting him is still a highlight of my short flight attendant career. One of the coolest, most unexpected interactions I’ve had. I was flying back from Montana of all places!
Mr. Test Pilot’s “Office”
Of equal coolness to Spaceship Pilot is the also very unlikely meeting, turned close friendship I’ve developed with David and Jimmy. The two, co-workers, turned friends live in Brooklyn. I consider them my favorite travel buddies. Both guys are incredibly sensitive and considerate. Kind and opinionated. Absolutely funny, and delightfully laid-back. Amazing listeners, enjoy seeing new places, and are all around great guys. I haven’t yet decided which one is my favorite yet:) I could go on-and-on about these two. And yes ladies, I believe that both men are single. What I cannot believe is that fate was in my favor when I met Dave. It was because of an alarm not going off and missing a flight that my friend Keri and I found ourselves sitting next to the tall, dark-skinned, New Yorker when going to Hawaii two years ago.
My bubbly, sometimes intrusive way of asking too many questions gave Dave little option but to talk to Keri and I. And that chance meeting led to a year later, Emily and I traveling through Europe with him and his friend Jimmy. In my experience, being that annoying seat mate and talking too much worked in finding two of my most favorite people in the world. So, sometimes it’s a good thing to be annoying, outgoing, and slightly intrusive. Use sparingly and pay attention to body language. Eye mask, earplugs, or headphones are the universal sign of “leave me alone”!
Driving the boys crazy in Prague, Czech Republic.
People shake their heads and wonder how I meet the people I do. I honestly can’t answer that because I don’t know either. I think I’m just open. Everyone has a story. There is always something that you can learn from people, even if you only see them once in your life, or talk to them for five minutes. Some of the people will stay in your life, enrich your life, and continue to fill your life with joy; some you will lose track of, but the memory remains, positive or negative.
Be open to who is in your world today. Appreciate them now. Treasure and cherish friendships. Look forward to who will enter your life tomorrow. And don’t expect them to walk up to you and ask to be your best friend. That just might be what you need to do