When we left Sydney, the two of us brimming with excitement, clutching two backpacks and a travel pillow each, I romanticised pretty substantially how traveling with somebody else was going to be.
We were obviously going to be sharing some of the most exciting, challenging, confronting, delicious and educational moments during our travels and having deep meaningful discussions late into the night about how they make us feel and how we can make the world a better place, right? Let me tell you, getting absolutely fed up with each other because we were going to be spending every waking minute in each other’s company with very limited interactions with other people wasn’t something I predicted.
And that’s not entirely what happened. We didn’t get completely fed up with each other. In fact, in the course of our travels we got engaged. But what we did realise is the fact that spending every waking moment of every day for five months in a row together would put a strain on our relationship and we craved interactions with other people. Big time.
I befriended every cat and stray dog in the neighbourhood and started my days by messaging our AirBnb hosts about how they are and what their day is looking like (mild creep alert). Each time the lovely shop attendant in the supermarket down the road smiled when saying hello, I’d literally tear up taking it as a promise of a beautiful friendship. And then, there was the cooking class.
We decided to attend a cooking class when we were staying in Istanbul. It was the two of us and seven other lovely people. Now, everybody else came there to make hummus and learn more about the differences between cousins in different parts of Turkey. They probably came hoping for a glass of wine and a nice evening. Well, not me.
I went to the cooking class to inhale other people’s faces. Sip on their words. Get drunk on their life stories. Make a lifetime’s worth of memories in the time we spent wandering the food market and chopping veggies. By the time the class ended, I knew virtually everything about everyone – and nothing about Turkish cooking. When I was leaving the class tormented by a mild separation anxiety and exchanged emails with a lovely family from Luxembourg, their 10 year old son gave me a big goodbye hug and I almost passed out of the overwhelming emotion.
And you know what? It felt fabulous.
I tried to think back to the time before we left for our travels and I just couldn’t remember cherishing new encounters with random strangers in the same way. And maybe it’s traveling that makes those encounters and interactions so meaningful and memorable? They’re brief and we’re all in. They’re like the most excellent kitchen afterparty that ends with the rising sun – suddenly, you feel like you share so much with those random strangers. And it’s true – you do. You share a moment – and that’s the best thing you can share with anyone. Well, apart from hummus.