Sneaker girl and I met on my very first day backpacking in Bangkok. Our encounter had changed my whole trip. She was the first person to leave footmarks of love on this exciting journey. This letter is my way of appreciating this unique friendship full of love and inspiration.
«I think you’re in my room, I saw your shoes», once I heard my own voice, I noticed how weird that sounded. Fortunately, the girl didn’t take it as a hit on. I’ve seen her shoes in our 6-bed shared female dorm, neatly placed in front of her comfortable buck free bunk bed. Black and white, swoosh on each side – how rare right? That’s what I noticed once this question popped out of my mouth. But, lucky me, sneaker girl smiled at me. «Sorry I said», giggling nervously. «It’s my first day here, and actually first time ever doing a trip like this by myself» I said, while the sweat ran down my temples. Man! Bangkok was hot and humid, I wondered how I should survive with my 15-pound backpack, when my clothes seem to get dirty by just looking at them. I noticed that sneaker girl was also sweating. Or shining, on her it looked more like a glow. She was sitting on the porch with her laptop, now displaying her bright white teeth to me. «Oh really, I feel you!», she responded with a curious smile and Spanish accent. «I’ve been on the road for a few months now, but it’s also my first time. So, I do know exactly what you’re going through and let me tell you, it’s going to be amazing!». What should I say, we just bonded.
The same evening, we went to a Girl! Treat yourself place! where I booked a massage with a lady called Yuna and she got shiny turquoise toenails. She laughed with me when I fell asleep on the raffia stool and woke up, almost choking, when Yuna hit my neck the Thai way. She was smacking me, trying to remove my German stiffness – both physically and mentally. I guess it worked.
Sneaker girl and I spend one more day together before she left for her next adventure. She made me feel at home in this crazy and rushing city and our 24 hours together felt infinite. We connected on so many levels and discovered parallels in our past relationships. We discovered that we share a similar mindset and a natural curiosity in our way of approaching things. Sneaker girl was one of a dozen relationships I’ve built out of the blue while traveling and which have had a huge impact on my life. She was the first though. The first person to reassure me: you’re completely right here, yes, even on this tiny fisher boat, chugging across an unfortunately way too polluted river in the middle of Bangkok. I didn’t expect to find you, sneaker girl and all of my other travel companions. I guess that is what happens when you’re actually present and live without expectations – you get to experience these rare moments of true companionship and realness. Once you overcame the first big part and your fear of trying the unknown, you will be rewarded with meeting beautiful strangers. If you allow it to happen, you will discover many commonalties, regardless of differences in gender, race, origin or age. The bittersweet part is that with these unexpected and wonderful hellos, there will be a goodbye, each and every time. Even if its foreseeable, it still comes unexpected and always hits me. It took me a while, but I noticed that this is something to be grateful for. I’ve learned to really be present with somebody, to listen, and to enjoy. The other side of the coin is that I got confronted with a rather sudden goodbye. While feeling what I feel, I noticed that every time there is actually something going on in my gut. A tingling sensation. Eventually I figured that this is the next I didn’t expect to moment approaching. Every goodbye is a hello. Sneaker girl and I said these word three times so far, and I feel the next hello approaching.