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Friday, April 24, 2009

Hanging with Strangers

Written by Lee

I'm a clean slate kind of person.  I believe that most everyone deserves a clean slate. Meaning when I first meet someone I assume the best.  That they are cool. They can be trusted. And that they will be nice to me.  

Call me smart or call me stupid.  You decide.

It's just that I've found that if I operate from this mental and emotional place, I feel that adventures open up to me.  And I'm all about adventures in life.  Why the hell not?  What else is there to do? I want my life's memory to include many random adventures. And if they are spontaneous ones, then all the better.

I have found that my clean slate mentality has served me well especially during travel when I am meeting strangers. I'm generally a believer that if I don't meet some strangers when I travel I'm missing the point.  

My clean slate mentality has definitely gotten me into some what some may perceive as "sketchy" situations but I also believe in my gut.  And I think when I meet a generally good person, I can tell.  

This clean slate approach took me on my very first international trip at the optimistic age of 21 to the outskirts of Florence to an apartment complex of a random Italian dude. I danced in his living room to like REO Speedwagon or something ridiculous like that and ate cheese and drank wine with him.  After a couple of hours, he drove me back into town and dropped me off at the pensione I had arranged for my night's stay.  

In Israel a local entrepreneur-type character befriended me and two girlfriends (one who was convinced he was a serial killer).  Over the course of two days in Tiberias he took us all over the city in his jeep, high into the hills over the Sea of Galilee and introduced us to locals at a party at his place.  

In Maui, a ragtag older weathered surf dude encouraged my dear friend and I to try surfing (remember?) so he took us to his place, picked out a long board for us and took us out to some mellow waves to give it a whirl.   

In Romania, some local dudes took me and my friends to a hidden gem of a local restaurant to feast on their speciality version of the staple food of mamaglia, a polenta-type loaf.  A restaurant off-the-beaten track that I would have never have found as a "tourist."

On the sands of Venice Beach, a dude from Ghana approached me on a warm early day as I laid out in my thong bikini reading a book (yes, I was in my 20's). He wanted to chat and offered to give me a massage.  I thought "What the hell? A massage would feel damn good right about now."  So I took him up on his offer and you know what?  The massage was awesome, the conversation was fascinating and we even smoked a joint together to cap off our hang.

The list goes on and on for me.  

Now some of you may read this and think "SUCKER!  All of those dudes just wanted to get you in bed!"  And you know what?  Maybe you are right.  But none of them tried. There may have been a few hints here and there but I was upfront and honest about my intentions and all was good in the end.

I do believe there's always an element of luck in life.  No doubt about it.  If one of these strangers had been a "bad person" the story would have been very different.  Obviously. And my slate would no longer be clean.

But I believe the point is ... what IS the point? 

The point is that I trust my gut.  I have faith that the majority of people out there cruising the world are generally good people.  And I have a firm belief in engaging with people in the world around me. 

My life is way richer because of it.


Speaking of strangers and a richer life, see that button up there at the top of the sidebar? It's a scene called BlogHer.  And although I was a little nervous to dive in, I will be there, along with a new friend/stranger, representin' our little corner of the blogoverse.  

And I'm certain there will be adventures.

I figure if I can travel through Bulgaria into Turkey alone on a rickety bus, I can surely navigate my way through a host of conference rooms at some hotel in Chicago.  


And if you happen to be a BlogHer kind of blogger, check out our blog designer, Nap Warden, who has submitted an idea to host a tutorial on Blog Design in BlogHer's Geek Lab sessions. She needs people who would be interested in attending her session to go over and vote for her. Even though she may be a stranger to you, and she's almost a stranger to me, I encourage you to go vote for her.  

So all you other strangers who will be wandering the halls of the Sheraton Towers, anyone up for wearing a thong and giving each other massages?  Or does that sound weird?


  1. Wow - I can't believe I'm first to comment. Cool.

    OK, did I read that right? Are you going to a blogging conference with Deb in Chicago? You have come a long way baby. Even cooler.

    I admire and am inspired by your sense of trust and adventure. The coolest of all.

  2. I think of some things I have done, people I have met, chances I have taken and I was very lucky!

  3. You are much more ballsy than I....I have travelled extensively, too. Always with cautious optimism though. Even in my 20s.

    wish I could afford to go to Blogher.

  4. What an amazing life you have had! I believe in the clean slate/open mind philosphy too. I have never applied itlike you... I don't always follow my gut ... my free spirit would get me in trouble. I am glad you listen to yours though

  5. Wow, you've been everywhere!

    And now I'll get to bump into you at the Sheraton. I promise not to try to get you in bed. :)

  6. Yowza Leebers! I lurve your clean slate spirit!

    (Hey it's what gave me a chance around here! heh heh)

    I really do admire you and wish more of us were like you.

    You totally and completely RAWK!

  7. have had an amazing life of travel....and you're very lucky......wanna hit Vegas together?

  8. First - you're so correct, always go with your gut. I ignored it once, and paid the price. Your adventures, on the other hand, sound so awesome. What a wonderful rich life you've got going on chica!

    Second - I don't know who to not talk to first, you or Deb. Well, since I'm commenting here, I guess it will be Deb. Can you see my pouty lip all the way in Cali?

  9. YOu and Deb will have a ball! And I love the attitude! You just never know what you may pass up without that mentality!

  10. No thong, definitely up for the massage. Except I won't be there at BlogHer.

  11. I love that part about travel. Meeting new people and discovering a side of me that I never would have discovered otherwise. I found it true that if you travel you meet some wonderful people who are always willing to help you out in a tight spot (or tight thong!).

    Now that we are older and with a child (and have less time to travel), my husband and I have tried to become the sort to help travelers out if we ever come across the chance. So even though we aren't traveling, we are still meeting those interesting characters. I believe we have come full circle. The world is basically a good place!

  12. yes, there will be adventures, but i am NOT giving you a massage, no matter how much you beg!

    i am like you... i think part of our purpose on this earth is to actually interact with each other!

  13. First: HOW have you been able to travel so much? luckeeeeeee

    Weird thing: I am famous for getting the Wrong First Impression from People. So then I have to auto-switch and assume everyone I think is bad is good and vice versa.

    But I do agree that there are a lot more "good" people in the know what I mean, right?

  14. what beach:)lol! Yah to adventures lee! I believe all have a great out come too! whether the journey was easy or tough...two snaps for all the great people in the world too, its what keeps me hanging in some days! happy friday!

  15. I knew there was a reason I was drawn to you. I spent 2 months back-packing by myself around Europe, accepting rides from strange men and staying at some chicks apartment that I met on the train. Life is full of adventures!

  16. Oh, my friend, I was thinking of THAT VERY Maui surfer dude as I began to read this fabulous post. I think that your "clean slate" attitude is one of the qualities I love most about you. You are always up for adventure (need I mention the road from Hana I was too chicken-shit to take??).

    Thank you for bringing me out of my comfort zone now and then. Love you :-)

  17. i'm totally the same! did you see this post from when i was in NY?
    i talked to anyone who would talk back to me - it added SO much to the trip - just like you said lee

  18. Psst...Lee...You should totally try to hook up with Heather of the a totally non-sexual way. She is way fab. Heather and her blog rock. If you get the opportunity to meet her in person, you must dish.

    Oh, and I couldn't agree with you more. Life is richer when we take chances...especially when it comes to random massages.


  19. That's how I've lived my life too and looking back I'm so glad I did, except for the time I got lost in the subway in Hong Kong. It was ALL worth it.

  20. Hey girl...thanks so much for the shout out!


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