22 May 2013

Global Village

It is nice, once in a while, to be reminded that I am a member of the "global village."  

I have friends who zip around the world for work, whether they be diplomats, employed by the military, or corporate scions.  Another friend quit his job, bought an around-the-world plane ticket and left today for Tokyo, the first leg of his journey.  A friend who is rather a genius at making several possible variables and impossibilities do is bidding and is now in Denmark, the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to study nursing in Greenland.  

Which makes my life at a job where I do little other than stare at Excel spreadsheets all day, and field calls from people who wouldn't have to call me if they'd just read their damn emails (ahem), feel a tad boring.  

I admit it, I get restless.  I like change. I like to be challenged and to be made uncomfortable and to meet new things and make new connections.

Today on Facebook, I asked for recommendations for what parts of Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki we should aim to stay in on our upcoming trip to visit the aforementioned Genius Fulbright Student. I was hoping some of my actually Scandinavian friends would chime in with the kind of valuable, cost-saving advice that only locals would know.

Instead?  I had an experience that brought a smile to my face, and reminded me that yes, despite feeling a bit envious of my traveling friends, I am a member of the global village after all.

A friend who is an executive with a US-based travel agency chided me for not asking him for help, and forbade me from using AirBnB.  This is the same fellow who managed to pull a few strings and secure us a private tour of the Strahov Monastery in Prague.  I said "Thank you!" and am crossing my fingers his proposals fit our comparatively small budget.

Perhaps most remarkably, I was offered assistance from a friend in Egypt.  The man who was our tour guide in Cairo and Alexandria, offered to hook me up with friends of his in Helsinki.  Because that makes total sense, right? That my Egyptian tour guide could help my visit to Finland?  It was a nice reminder of the paths The Historian and I have traveled.

And this folks is why, even though the "frigid" people in Seattle think I'm a little weird for being so friendly sometimes, I always offer to help.  A kind word, a remembered event, an introduction or an invitation is what I appreciate and I know that others do too - I feel deeply grateful that people I've only met a few times will go out of their way to help me, so why wouldn't I do the same?

I like to think I paid it forward a little today by encouraging a coworker to think about going snorkeling if she ever gets the chance.  It had never occurred to her to do so, but it came up in conversation. She was hesitant at first, but warmed up to the idea. Making something exotic seem accessible, familiar, and possible is one of the great joys of travel, and I hope I made her feel that way today.