“I think she was,” I said.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a bench at the park, watching my son jump from stone to stone. As I was looking around, trying to stay clear of anyone (because you know, social-distancing), I noticed a little girl with a t-shirt that said “Austin, Texas”.
Ding, ding, ding. Bells rang in my head. ANOTHER AMERICAN!
I looked around to see where her parents were and noticed her mom right behind. She was getting closer and closer to my bench. I told myself, “This is it. I’m just going to do it. I’m going to just talk to her, it worked before, maybe it will work again”.
As the little girl stumbled nearby, I cleared my throat and said “Are you from Austin?! My husband and I have been talking about moving there!”.
She was relaxed and didn’t seem taken aback. She volunteered that no she wasn’t from Austin, but from NY instead.
Phew, still American though.
Now, I realize it’s a crazy thing to latch onto, but when you’re in a foreign country and you hear someone speak in English, or you see a shirt that references an American city, your eyes and ears perk up.
While I do have a strong case of identity crisis because I’m a third-world culture kid, hearing someone from the States brings me comfort because I know I have something I can immediately latch onto.
We have something to relate to and to talk about from the initial contact. And that makes it SO much easier when it comes to making new friends.
So we chit-chatted a bit until her kid decided to run off. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the guts to go after her and ask her for her number. Bummer.
Then, literally, 2 days later, I see her walking down my street with her husband and daughter. I smiled, waved, and made sure she recognized me. I don’t care how crazy I looked, I needed to get this woman’s number because HELLO, we’re meant to be!
She introduced herself and we chit-chatted a bit more until they were on their way. I made sure to let her know that she could knock on my door once the social distancing measures would be relaxed.
But I STILL didn’t get her number. Darn it!
Until I ran into her AGAIN. This time, I literally took out my phone and asked her to give me her contact information so that we could stay in touch.
And then…nothing happened. We sent a few texts back and forth before she left me hanging. I sent her a nice text that never got a reply back.
I told myself that it was ok. That I did everything I could to connect with her and that it was up to her to reciprocate. So I dropped it.
A week or so went by, still no reply to my text.
Today, she walked by my house again, saw me in the living room, and waved at me. Yes, in keeping with the Dutch culture, we keep our curtains open at all times. I signaled to her that I was coming out to say hi.
As I was standing there at my door, and she was keeping her distance on the sidewalk, we had a short back and forth with her finally saying that we should meet outside with the kids at some point.
I told my husband about the encounter, to which he asked: “Did she seem genuine?”
Although I’m a good judge of character, I’m also keenly aware of how friendly Americans are and how that doesn’t necessarily translate into someone wanting to be friends.
So I don’t know. I honestly have no clue whether she’s going to try to reconnect with me, but I’m going to give it one more try.
Because this is what it comes down to: you either give it your all, or you don’t. It’s that simple. Some people need to be nudged a bit more than others. Some people ignore the nudges.
And sure, this might be personal. That’s perfectly fine!
In my lifelong quest of finding the right people to surround myself with, I can’t be bothered by the ones that are wrong for me. What I don’t want to happen is to miss out on a great friendship simply because I was too scared to put myself out there.
So I’m ok with striking out because all I need are one or two good strikes, and I’m set.
The next time you see someone you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to reach out. You never know what could happen. They might become your new best friend, or you might never see them again.
Wouldn’t you rather know?