Hanging with Strangers

Written by Lee

I’m a clean slate kind of person.  I believe that most everyone deserves a clean slate. Meaning when I first meet someone I assume the best.  That they are cool. They can be trusted. And that they will be nice to me.  


Call me smart or call me stupid.  You decide.

It’s just that I’ve found that if I operate from this mental and emotional place, I feel that adventures open up to me.  And I’m all about adventures in life.  Why the hell not?  What else is there to do? I want my life’s memory to include many random adventures. And if they are spontaneous ones, then all the better.

I have found that my clean slate mentality has served me well especially during travel when I am meeting strangers. I’m generally a believer that if I don’t meet some strangers when I travel I’m missing the point.  

My clean slate mentality has definitely gotten me into some what some may perceive as “sketchy” situations but I also believe in my gut.  And I think when I meet a generally good person, I can tell.  

This clean slate approach took me on my very first international trip at the optimistic age of 21 to the outskirts of Florence to an apartment complex of a random Italian dude. I danced in his living room to like REO Speedwagon or something ridiculous like that and ate cheese and drank wine with him.  After a couple of hours, he drove me back into town and dropped me off at the pensione I had arranged for my night’s stay.  

In Israel a local entrepreneur-type character befriended me and two girlfriends (one who was convinced he was a serial killer).  Over the course of two days in Tiberias he took us all over the city in his jeep, high into the hills over the Sea of Galilee and introduced us to locals at a party at his place.  

In Maui, a ragtag older weathered surf dude encouraged my dear friend and I to try surfing (remember?) so he took us to his place, picked out a long board for us and took us out to some mellow waves to give it a whirl.   

In Romania, some local dudes took me and my friends to a hidden gem of a local restaurant to feast on their speciality version of the staple food of mamaglia, a polenta-type loaf.  A restaurant off-the-beaten track that I would have never have found as a “tourist.”

On the sands of Venice Beach, a dude from Ghana approached me on a warm early day as I laid out in my thong bikini reading a book (yes, I was in my 20’s). He wanted to chat and offered to give me a massage.  I thought “What the hell? A massage would feel damn good right about now.”  So I took him up on his offer and you know what?  The massage was awesome, the conversation was fascinating and we even smoked a joint together to cap off our hang.

The list goes on and on for me.  

Now some of you may read this and think “SUCKER!  All of those dudes just wanted to get you in bed!”  And you know what?  Maybe you are right.  But none of them tried. There may have been a few hints here and there but I was upfront and honest about my intentions and all was good in the end.

I do believe there’s always an element of luck in life.  No doubt about it.  If one of these strangers had been a “bad person” the story would have been very different.  Obviously. And my slate would no longer be clean.

But I believe the point is … what IS the point? 

The point is that I trust my gut.  I have faith that the majority of people out there cruising the world are generally good people.  And I have a firm belief in engaging with people in the world around me. 

My life is way richer because of it.

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Speaking of strangers and a richer life, see that button up there at the top of the sidebar? It’s a scene called BlogHer.  And although I was a little nervous to dive in, I will be there, along with a new friend/stranger, representin’ our little corner of the blogoverse.  

And I’m certain there will be adventures.

I figure if I can travel through Bulgaria into Turkey alone on a rickety bus, I can surely navigate my way through a host of conference rooms at some hotel in Chicago.  

Right?

And if you happen to be a BlogHer kind of blogger, check out our blog designer, Nap Warden, who has submitted an idea to host a tutorial on Blog Design in BlogHer’s Geek Lab sessions. She needs people who would be interested in attending her session to go over and vote for her. Even though she may be a stranger to you, and she’s almost a stranger to me, I encourage you to go vote for her.  

So all you other strangers who will be wandering the halls of the Sheraton Towers, anyone up for wearing a thong and giving each other massages?  Or does that sound weird?

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