Sunday night I had supper with an older couple and their friend. It was certainly not planned, and I would say I gave them quiet a scare when I initially walked through the gate of my friend Danielle's host family's house. Her name is Vanessa, her husband's Phil, and he came out while still putting his clothes on after a shower.
"Who are you? Do you know that you are on private property?"
My mind went completely blank. As would yours if you were expecting to come to an empty house to stay for one night between house swappings while you traipse homelessly around during the summer months before moving into your official job.
"I'm Danielle's friend. I know Vanessa [owner of the house and different than aforementioned Vanessa] and Xavier. I'm going to be working for Severine and Roland. Look I have keys!"
I quickly yanked out my big, Victorian-style keys for Danielle's house and the gate key. The mood immediately changed once they discovered I knew the family. And then they invited me to have supper. With them. At first I said no, and then I said yes, and then I remembered that they are French so they were going to be eating around 8 p.m. When I had a date to skype with a friend. I apologetically told Vanessa I was not going to be able to eat with them. Naturally, they started eating early, and invited me to join while I wasn't skyping just yet.
It was refreshing. Listening to their beautiful accents. Being told intermittently what they were talking about. Mundane things really, but in French, everything sounds spectacular. I felt surprisingly filled. Earlier that day I had woken to an empty feeling in my stomach. The kind I get when I feel alone, disconnected. And here I was, hardly understanding a word, eating with people I had known for no more than two hours, feeling connected and not alone.
Vanessa and I had a chance to talk one on one while her husband gave their friend a tour of the house. She told me of how recently her husband had helped some Australian tourists in Paris and hit it off so well with them he invited them out for coffee. They all got along so well they spent a few days together, Vanessa taking them to some of the sights in Paris, sharing her city and her culture.
"They were such wonderful people. We connected so well. And there are people like that. People who, no matter their age, or their culture, or their background, we connect with them. It's a beautiful thing, really, awakens us, reminds us of who we are. What makes us human."
I agree with her, no matter how alone I am currently, jumping from one house to the next, sitting in parks reading without anyone with me, there are always going to be those people who I was made to connect with. I don't want to miss them. I don't ever want to be so enraptured by my inability for fluency in the language between us that I miss the incredible human ability to connect far beyond words. Sometimes, or maybe even all the time, connection and communication are done better with the heart rather than with the mouth.
Here's to the human connections I make every day, the ones on the metro with the little Japanese boy, the ones with the girl who graciously understood my pointings at the market, the ones with the couple who invited me to eat supper with them even though they didn't know me. Here's to connecting and communicating, even in the seemingly small ways.