The city of Vancouver feels a lot quieter now that the Olympics have left town. There are signs everywhere indicating that the mammoth event did, in fact, take place here, but the incredible buzz that existed during that time is gone.
What has remained, however, beyond the advertisements and the architecture and the infrastructure, is the connection between the people, the conviviality, and the sense of familiarity that comes when folks have shared something special and so cease to be strangers.
When I was here in February in the very midst of the Olympic frenzy, I blogged about this connectivity because the experience was so heartening. I remember posting on Facebook something like, "The Olympics is making people talk to each other on the bus! No one talks on the bus!"
Well, that's how I know that the city has undergone a true transformation. The global party has changed Vancouverites in an enduring and lasting way because yesterday, on the bus, a woman not only spoke to me but practically became my new best friend.
Although I've become more and more familiar with this city I'm still not totally sure of how to get from A to Z. I got on the bus last night heading to my destination without a really clear idea of what route I should take. When I asked the bus driver, who it turned out didn't know, a woman sitting near the front piped up with the directions.
After depositing the fare, I moved up to where the woman sat with her young son and she explained to me how best I could get to where I was going. I thanked her and then her son showed me his Easter rabbit, a small bunny made from plastic crystal snowballs with pink felt ears and black wire whiskers.
The boy and I began to have a conversation and his mother would join in occasionally, the three of us engaging with one another as though we'd known each other for years. The woman told me I should get off the bus with them at the next stop and then they'd walk a block with me to the transfer point. She was happy to show me the way.
We got off the bus and continued yakking the way people who are not strangers do. Just then, the woman saw my bus and said I should run for it. I did, waving and thanking her, the boy still talking to me as I ran, shouting after me about his love for dragons, waving back with his little bunny clasped in his hand.
Now, would this story have happened just has easily if the Olympics had not taken place here? Of course it is possible. Friendly people are everywhere. But it is this familiarity that I feel here now, this sensation of true camaraderie that comes when a group of people have been through something BIG together, that makes this encounter more than just your average everyday friendliness.
After I got on the second bus and reflected on what had just happened I thought to myself that I should have given that woman my business card or at least asked her if she was on Facebook. It seemed a shame to lose touch so soon after we'd become friends.
Inspiring Message of the Day: We are all strangers to each other until we are not. It doesn't take much for us to connect to one another, to remember that we are, in fact, all here on this planet together. Familiar, connected, friends.