Cherishing my connections and encounters with people during my journey back from Lisbon

Photo of people travelling at an airport
Vladimir Yaitskiy/Creative Commons

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During my journey back home to California from Lisbon, Portugal, I briefly encountered and connected with many people — some old, some young, all of us going different places and in different walks of life. Although the moments of sun and music live in my memory fondly, I hope to celebrate these fleeting human connections that occurred during my trip back.

I woke up when the world was still asleep to catch my flight home. It was cold, and the streets were illuminated by a faint yellow light that painted the world in a pale hue. It was here that I had the pleasure of meeting my Uber driver. His accent was a blend of Brazilian, Portuguese and all of the other places he had lived in throughout his life. He happily recounted memories of his family, his geniality immediately settling my nerves from traveling solo for the first time. Although the drive lasted no longer than 15 minutes, our conversation remains etched in my memory. When the car stopped, I experienced an odd feeling — a mixture of sadness and comfort in saying goodbye. I would never see this man again, and yet he had left a considerable impression on me.

At the airport, the terminal was illuminated with white lights and windows so large you could see the sun peeking out over the horizon. There, I met two other people: a girl from Brazil with an infectious laughter and another from New York who wore black combat boots and moved to Portugal just because she loved it. Aside from the initial joy of meeting someone our age, we laughed together and traded stories as we waited for our COVID-19 test results. They shared their frustrations and joys about the country we were in, and their excitement for their onward journey to Paris. It was sad to part ways, but I was happy to have met them.

During my flight, I had the pleasure of meeting two musicians from California and a boy from New York. With the bright sunlight shining through our windows, we exchanged snacks and tidbits about ourselves. The musicians talked about their time spent in Italy and the excitement of future tours, but were also candid about their struggles awaiting them back at home. The boy talked about his family and his job in the Big Apple. I found these interactions peculiar. I was trapped next to complete strangers for five to eight hours, knowing I would never see them again, and yet I was sharing these intimate moments with them. 

Between the moments on the ground, stuck in airports and surrounded by people running on with their lives, I met more people who touched my soul — a boy my age who was traveling home after school in Poland, two girls who I sprinted across the airport with to catch my next flight and a woman from U.K. and her child, with whom I shared my excitement for the new school year with. 

Although these interactions were brief, I cherish them and this is my way of remembering these meaningful human connections. To the people I met: Thank you for sharing a little bit of your lives with me. 

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].