The thing I enjoy most about my life lately isn't always getting to the destination. You know, like finally arriving at the Giant or finally getting to your vacation spot. My favorite moments fall on the timeline between leaving and arriving because that's where the unknown happens. That's where the things you didn't plan occur, the surprise guests of the day pop out and remind you that you are not alone on your trajectory, wherever your journey takes you and however disparate your paths may eventually be.
I love talking to the server who smiles at Abby's chocolate milk mustache. She will be the person I will think about for the next fifteen minutes instead of myself or my own children. She will be my main focus before pancakes land on our table, steaming and gleaming of blueberries and extra whipped cream. We will learn that she has two grown children herself: a boy who is bashful and handsome, a girl who loves the beach and crossword puzzles. A little family of the past that is suddenly thrust into the present by a stranger who wonders if the girl has her mother's green eyes.
Another chance meeting with a pet store owner reminds me there are still many kind people in this world. A tall man with soft gray stubble takes his time lifting each active hermit crab from the cage for Abby to inspect. He gently discourages against a pretty shelled crab because apparently you shouldn't judge a hermit crab by its paint job. This tall man with a Middle Eastern accent helps Abby find hermit crab accoutrements while ignoring other customers in his store. Perhaps poor customer service for them but nothing short of an educational experience for my girl. He too, we learn at checkout, has children. The picture he shows from his wallet is of a young baby girl whose face is the exact female version of her daddy's. No wonder he spent so much time with Abby. He has his own waiting for him at home.
The people we meet and chat with on our way to somewhere else offer themselves as a break in the controlled universe we create as parents, as adults in general. These people offer up conversation, momentary kinship, and the feeling that this life is connected by positive energies willing to share their own time with yours.