Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Eating a Meal with Strangers

I will admit it: I am not a very social person. I'm an introvert. It could be considered a fault of mine, but I have a lot of trouble with social interaction, especially with people I am not extremely comfortable with. 

About a year and a half or so ago, when we were getting ready to leave for New Orleans for our wedding anniversary/belated honeymoon (dubbed "Honeyversary") and Husband asked what I thought about having Thanksgiving lunch with two strangers from Reddit named Matt and Courtney who were doing a holiday meal, my first thought was, "" He eventually persuaded me and a few days later we were at Copeland's in Metairie, waiting for the strangers to show up. 

Wow. I was going to be sitting there with people I had never met before. I already had trouble talking to people I sort of knew...and what exactly were we going to talk about? Thoughts such as these went through my head, even after we got our table and were seated. My husband is very outgoing, so he really did most of the talking, but the funny thing is that the conversation went quite smoothly, no one was a weirdo (everyone is a weirdo in their own way, myself included, but I'm talking about a WEIRDO weirdo), and everyone seemed to get along pretty well! It even turned out that Matt was a native New Yorker, like Husband. All five of us (Matt, Courtney, a college student who was living in New Orleans but originally from the Northwest, Husband, and me) came from different places where we now live and were meeting in New Orleans. That was pretty neat! We shared similar ideas about the world, which was unanticipated. It is always a good feeling to know that there are other people out there who feel the same way about things.  

At the lunch we learned about their project, Breakfast with Strangers, in which they traveled the United States in a van and took strangers out to breakfast in order to break down "stranger danger" barriers and learn more about the people who inhabit this country. Very cool. 

The experience was both enriching and surprising for me. Enriching, because we met interesting people who we probably wouldn't have met otherwise; and surprising, because I survived meeting and hanging out with people we probably wouldn't have met otherwise. ;) 

The other day I got a notice that I had been tagged in a photo of Matt and Courtney's book that was being released as an ebook, so of course we had to get it. After downloading, we sat down at the computer and looked through it. Humans, this book is really really great. You should definitely check it out, and not just because there is a picture of me and Husband in it (holy crap my hair is short). These are not stories of vapid celebrities and "who's wearing what", etc. These are stories of people who live all around you. Real people. Real strangers

"Stranger" is a very divisive word, when you think about it. Someone strange and foreign. Someone not like you. We are taught from our earliest age to stay away from strangers, don't talk to them. Be afraid. It seems like our whole culture is one of fear, from the extreme news stories to ongoing wars and conflicts, to entertainment that focuses on people doing terrible things to other people. It's not healthy. 

I find Matt and Courtney's project very refreshing. I'm glad they did it and I'm glad that we were able to be a part of it. You can also check them and their project out on Facebook, where they share uplifting stories and info about the project. Thanks again, Matt and Courtney!

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