How to start a conversation and make friends

By show of hands, who believes in luck?

I don’t know what to call it, but when my walk was coming to an end this past Friday, I was afraid. I was afraid that my good luck streak would run out someday. I was worried that my life and the experiences would become boxed and patterned; packaged nicely for all of the readers. I was worried about becoming fake.

My moods tend to pinball around, and that morning I felt pretty good about myself. I planned to go sketching. I also planned not to plan. I would go where my nose took me, and hoped things would work out. They did, and I ended up having a great day.

At my station, I managed to get into the same elevator as a man from my neighborhood who I had been wanting to meet for ages. He has art sitting outside of this house all of the time. In rain or shine, the Renoir and Picasso copies stay out. I pass that house every time I walk home, and my pace tends to slow down when I walk by The Painting House. I never could find a good excuse to go and introduce myself, but now I had one. My first ten minutes out of the house seemed to be productive, and I told myself that if nothing else interesting happened the rest of the day, I would be happy with just that chance meeting.

I decided on the platform to always look up. No books. Though books are great and much better than watching TV, I find that after reading I come out of some sort of haze. I feel dull and unobservant.

I counted the number of people using cellphones in the train car: 28. Basically everyone was using their cellphone except the young girl behind me. I glanced over at her paper and saw that it had English on it and I guessed that she was studying for a test. As soon as she saw me looking at the notes, she quickly pulled the paper away- slightly embarrassed. That had never happened before so I took that as my cue to chime up.

For those reading this book:

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The trick is to say something before you can talk yourself out of it.

She was studying for a listening test at her university and that she had everything down pat but told me that she had no confidence in her English. It didn’t sound fun to study in the heat. I wished her good luck.

We parted ways and I went to the main tourist area of the city. For those who don’t know, I was born and raised in Japan and if I do anything that seems touristy, I start to feel uncomfortable. It pained me at first to take out a camera and take photos of the most iconic things in the area. But the ego slowly calmed down and I got used to it. Though I come to this area all of the time, I felt like I was in a different country because I was more aware. I heard different languages (mostly Chinese) and smelled different smells. My favorite smell being the Lush Stores with air-conditioning. On the opposite side of the spectrum, nothing smells worse to me than Ramen on a hot day. Kudos to the workers who don’t use nose plugs.

After some mindless wandering and photo taking, I ended up in Starbucks. Not exactly exotic, but it did the job. While sitting down for a bit with my well deserved sandwich and a book in hand, I noticed other travelers who also decided to get a Frapacchino. Backpackers, couples, families, it was nice to see.

I went back to glancing at my book and two Germans came in looking for a seat. I was hogging a table of two so I told them they could have my spot. One of them was super tall with long arms. He reminded me of the Abominable Snowman from Monsters Inc. He was also just as friendly and invited me to sit with them. We talked for a while with the running theme of the conversation being, “Never become a flight attendant.”

I had a great day but I found myself in a less-hopeful mood towards the end. Asking again, what do you believe about luck? Is it something that is given to you, or is it something that you make yourself? I’d like to believe it is the latter. You can have all the luck in the world, but if you don’t act on it, you miss the chance for a fun ride.

Just ask these two:

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