Last Thursday

A week ago today, I was out shopping with my Mom. She had off work for a morning teleconference so we spent the afternoon together out in Bowie. We especially enjoyed sitting outside for lunch at Chipotle on their patio — the weather was SO nice and we scored a spot in the shade!

Mmmm, burritos!

We did a little shopping and found a few things, like those dinosaur slippers for Abby. In one store, I just had to try on some polka-dot jeans because I was also wearing a polka-dotted shirt. There’s definitely something to be said for being on trend, but not to over-do it.

How about a haircut?

As we were leaving, she mentioned that her new hairdresser she goes to is in this shopping center. She somewhat jokingly asked if I wanted to get my hair cut, and I somewhat jokingly replied, “Yes.” But then we decided hey, why not!? So we got our hair cut.

We actually remembered to take some before pictures:

And…after! Just a trim for both of us!

More than just hair

The best thing about this experience (apart from the new haircut) was that I got to enjoy chatting with a few strangers – delightfully lovely, American small talk.

I went first, and I heard my mom chatting away with the lady next to her, whose daughter was also getting her hair done. I heard her tell the lady all about my wedding in Germany, and all the different customs and experiences they had while they were traveling here with me. That’s pretty typical of my mom, and I used to be embarrassed about it, but that’s changed now that I’m an adult.

This kind of thing does not happen easily in Germany. Which is kind of nice, and it does offer some anonymity which can be relaxing when you’re out and about. But at the same time, I miss that friendly banter with strangers. People say “excuse me” when they try to move past you, “bless you” when you sneeze, or “thank you” if you hold the door open for them. It can be pretty enjoyable having conversations with people you otherwise wouldn’t have spent time with.

Not to say that every interaction in the US of A is positive and friendly. Everyone has bad days, and there are some people who have a less than sunny disposition. But still, there’s a general undertone of openness that is just a bit different there, and I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until experiencing it again the past few weeks.

I can count on one hand the number of times strangers have had a short conversation with me — and none of the others were native Germans.

Have you had any interesting conversations with strangers recently?

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