The Traveling Words.

One of the reasons why I love second-hand books is this: because sometimes–when I get lucky, I’ll find one with hand-written notes inside of it.

I am always fascinated by such random collision of lives; knowing that the book I am holding once belong to someone else; given as an act of love by the people who are/were close to their hearts. Reading those hand-written notes, I can’t help to wonder who these people are, what are their stories, and why those books find their way to greet me in some random bookstores in different parts of the world.

So, I guess the idea has been occupying my mind since then, leaving me questioning:

“What will happen when you leave hand-written notes: a poem, a prose, a flash fiction–anything that is close to your heart, to be found by random strangers?”

***

Last Saturday, together with my soul-sister, Ollie, we decided to find the answer to that question. And today, we come up with TheTravelingWords. It’s an idea that I have discussed with Ollie a few months back, but I guess an idea will always be an idea unless it is being executed. So, here we are now, inviting you to initiate connections with strangers by leaving hand-written poem/prose/flash fiction–or anything that is close to you heart, in various places.

“When you are traveling, carry your words with you. When you are not traveling, let your words travel for you. Magic happens when we let words travel.”

This November, we invite people to leave their hand-written notes with the theme “Distance” in a coffee shop. They can actually write their notes on the back of their bills and leave it on the table when they have finished their coffee. If the coffee shop have a tip jar, they can also put your notes there. They just need to put TheTravelingWords.com on the bottom of their hand-written notes (they can also put their names/contacts if they like), and send the pictures of the notes where they left it to us. We’ll showcase them all on the site, so that people who found their notes would know what this is all about! :)

***

Personally, coffee shop (especially tiny ones) is a place that is close to my heart. I spend many times there, sitting on the table far from the busy counter, writing some random lines on my notebook while watching people and sniffing the lovely smell of fresh-roasted coffee beans. I always find it amusing to leave something for the barista or the waitress… just to brighten up their day a bit more–especially when they are about to clean the table.

I guess now I have a stronger reason to do so.

More about TheTravelingWords can be found here. Let’s get our words to travel and touch lives! :)

It’s something about closing your eyes
and trying to forget something you
have always remembered.
It’s something about chasing
the feelings that burn the back of
your eyelids, knowing that it
comes from something unrequited.
It’s something about running towards
someone else’s back as they’re
walking away from you, leaving
all your whys unanswered.


Missed Connections.

Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Woman on Subte D, 11.30 am on Friday 7/12, got off on Facultad Medicina
Location: Capital

We shared a couple of stops together this afternoon on the subte. The subway was crowded and you were crammed next to the door and I was standing (awkwardly) in front of you. You have blondish/brownish hair and had a blue knapsack on. I have short brown hair and was holding a green umbrella, not that you should have noticed. Anyway, I had about four stops to say something–anything–but didn’t. If by some random act of God Almighty you find this, hello. I would love to hear from you.

***

Some people asked me where do I get the ideas for my stories or writings. Usually I replied with, “Everywhere.” And it’s entirely true. Everything I have experienced in life and everyone I have crossed path with will become a story, a poem, a novel, or a blogpost. However, lately, I was drawn into Craigslist‘s Personals section to find story ideas.

The reason on why I ended up on Craigslist is a different story altogether and it will appear somewhere in my next book (wink), but all in all, I am amazed with the sparks of inspiration I could get from the site! These past few days, I got high just by reading Craigslist’s Missed Connections ads from different parts of the world. This section inside Personals carries ads from people who had the chance to connect with someone, but did not act on it; or did not act on it bold enough. Reading the ads reminded me of a Saturday when I spent 10 hours in Casa with Ollie, writing 50 poems each, around the similar theme: missed.

Craigslist’s Missed Connections has been my guilty pleasure, successfully keeping me up several nights in a row, curling in my bed with a cup of hot chocolate, clicking random cities, reading random ads and being mellow. I have selected some of the most interesting ones in this post. Hopefully they could spark some inspirations in you–not only to write a story, a poem, or whatever, but also to seize the moment, and to take that one chance in life: to live a life without what-ifs.

***

Singapore.
Malay Lady with Pink Lipstick Color on MRT towards Marina Bay
Location: MRT Bukit Batok – Yew Tee

Today afternoon around 4 pm, you were wearing a hijab and pink lipstick color and I was wearing blue. You boarded the MRT at Bukit Batok with your friend and I was sitting beside you. I fell asleep for a while but during the ride we looked at each other several times and I looked away because it was awkward. We both looked at each other when I finally alighted at Yew Tee. So if you happen to see this and want to make friends, just get back to me from here. Yeah?

Indian Lady on Bus 851 This Morning
Location: Bus 851

Our eyes met as I boarded Bus 851 this morning. I think we had a connection when we were glancing at each other repeatedly as you were waiting to alight at the bus stop at Little India station. I wish I had alighted with you just so I could introduce myself. Hope to see you again, or hear from you via email.

Barcelona, Spain.
Nice Conversation on L3 Line on Friday Night
Location: Diagonal station – L3 Line

It happened on 26th of July, Friday evening around 10 pm. When I was at Diagonal metro station, I asked you if the L3 train stop at Liceu. You were very kind and helped me with a nice smile. We had a nice conversation on the train and you got off at Catalunya. While you speak very good English, you told me that you speak Italian and French better. I wanted to ask you for a drink but couldn’t, since you were off to meet a friend. I regret that, because that was my last day in Barcelona. You seem like a very cool person and I want to talk more. I never tried this, but I’m just hoping you will read this. I’m that Asian guy traveling from New York.

Beautiful American Girl I Should Have Spoken To
Location: The metro

You were one of three American (or maybe Canadian) girls I stepped onto the metro with at Ciutadella – Vila Olimpica. We all got off at Passeig de Gracia. The entire ride I could not stop looking at you, and I noticed that your eyes, similarly, kept finding me. I was hoping we would both end up on the next train together, but you and your friends left the station and I was left on the other side of the crowd walking towards L3. I doubt you will ever read this, but, if so, I just wanted to tell you here (because I was too slow to tell you there) that you are genuinely the most beautiful human being I’ve ever laid eyes upon, and that, if it would be at all possible, I would not hesitate to fly to whatever American city you live in just to buy you dinner one night.

Santorini, Greece.
California Girls on the Bus to Oia
Location: Santorini

We talked briefly on the way to Oia yesterday. I’m the German guy with the T.C. Boyle book. Get in touch in case you read this, would be nice.

Rome, Italy.
We met on Omegle.
Location: Rome

Tell me what game we played: we had gone through three songs, the first one I showed you was blurred lines. You were 23, I was 19. Theory, dude, I hope you find me.

Paris, France.
Antoine Virolleau
Location: Joinville-le-Pont

I asked you for help at a metro station in Paris on July 13th. We both got off the train at Joinville-le-Pont and chatted a bit. You said I was the first person from Texas you had ever met. We said we would try to go together to the Eiffel Tower to see the Bastille Day fireworks the following day. I wasn’t able to get in touch with you because I could not find you on Facebook!

Asked You About Iced Tea
Location: St-Ouen Flea Market

You were working at a cafe at the back section part of the flea market. You gave me the recipe for the delicious homemade iced tea. You were so nice and had such a sweet smile. I saw you while you went on break and we both smiled and waved. I’d love to stay in contact. Long shot. Worth the try?

You Were 60 Something and You Were So Pretty!
Location: Paris

I was in the rain on my way back to Paris when I saw you get into the wagon, I think at Veneux-les-Sablons. You were 60-ish, so gorgeous, a perfect figure that could put the 20 something to shame. Your face was simply a sublime image of a Greek statue. The jeans you wore fit you just so perfectly. You kept looking out the window and I kept looking at you. I have your face imprinted in my mind. Your eyes, your lips, your body, your style… will I ever be able to see you? Meet you? Who knows… I am trying and will surely meet you. You had something in you, something so magnetic that kept pulling me towards you. Well, a lot of women could do that, but you were so special. Really, I would like to cycle with you somewhere around Fontainableu or around Paris. Sit with you, look at you, maybe share a cigarette and some conversation. Contact me, please!

Melbourne, Australia.
I Couldn’t Believe It. There You Were.
Location: Airport

K,

There I was sitting in the wrong gate at the wrong terminal at 7 am chowing down on McDonalds, when you walked past wearing your school sweater. It took me 30 seconds of being frozen to jump up and try to catch you up, but you had disappeared into the crowd. Long way from London… but it’s a small world. I hope your adventure is everything you hoped it would be!

G.

Blackburn Train 3.45 pm Today
Location: Spencer Street

You are around 50. You got on at Spencer Street, two handbags and you were wearing a brown coat which you seductively unbuttoned. Short brown hair. The sexiest legs I’ve ever seen. You were reading some stuff on employment contracts, which you were organizing in a folder. I was the young guy sitting opposite. Love to meet you.

SriLankan Stripper
Location: The Men’s Gallery, Melbourne

I met you at The Men’s Gallery. Every girl that approached me, I told them I wasn’t interested. Then, I saw you. I sat down in front of you straight away. I got a lap dance and we started talking about meditation and spiritual things. I fell in love. You told me you lived in Melbourne, close to me. I said, “I don’t usually do this, but would you like to grab a coffee?” You told me you had a boyfriend. I wore a clam shell around my neck. I am tall and wear glasses. For some reason, I think I met you for a reason. I am not sure why. I still would love to have a coffee with you.

Cairo, Egypt
June 24 Flight
Location: Cairo

We started chatting on the flight to Cairo, but I guess you couldn’t continue as you had your family with you. I couldn’t help being attracted to you, though. So please contact me if you ever read this.

Johannesburg, South Africa.
Der Salem KLM Flight
Location: Johannesburg

To the nice man who let me read his newspaper and carried my luggage into the terminal: you are a real gentleman. Thank you so very much even if it is somewhat after the fact.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
US Airways Flight 800 on Friday, July 12
Location: Rio de Janeiro

We met on our flight from Charlotte, NC, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–on US Airways Flight 800 on Friday, July 12, 2013. I was traveling for work, you were going back to Brazil for a month vacation. We both live in NYC. I gave you my number but I never got yours. I really want to get in touch with you. Please write back or call/message me.

Beijing, China.
Your Name is Shane
Location: SFO Airport

Hey.

We talked at the airport on July 7th, when Asiana crushed at SFO airport and our plan got cancelled and delayed. I wore a Cal shirt and you thought I was from Berkeley. You worked in an IT company at San Jose. I don’t know if you can see this… but I had really good time talking to you. But I guess you didn’t feel the same way, otherwise you would’ve asked my number. You were going to Beijing as I was, and I guess you would have been back to the States now.

Istanbul, Turkey.
Flight From Hong Kong to Istanbul
Location: Istanbul

We spoke briefly, and I was hoping to see you at baggage claim but never did. I know there is no chance of you reading this, but I thought what the hell. I’m here for a few days and would love to hang out. Anyway, if you read this, tell me the color of the jacket you were wearing, and let’s chat!

Montreal, Canada.
You Passed Me on Bannentyne Street in Verdun
Location: Verdun

Tonight at 9:50 pm, you passed me. Then you turned into Ave Desmachais. You were a white mature man. You were so sexy! I was walking behind you :)

Cute Guy at McDonalds, Late Breakfast
Location: Masson and Iberville

Cute guy, this morning at McDonalds you came back to the counter for a missing McMuffin. You winked at me when I smiled at you. By the time I got my food and sat near you, you were done and getting up. You were wearing black shorts and a black top. Wish I could have figured out how to say hi :) Maybe a coffee or drink later?

The Shortest Train Ride
Location: Train from Vendome

The moment you spoke to me, I melted. Your soft English accent. You asked me if I knew how the ticket machine worked. Unfortunately, I was there with my mother and felt awkward, but lent you $6 for the ticket since you only had American money. We rode the train and you sat next to me. We talked about a lot of things. I learned that you were originally from London, now living in New York, working for a magazine. You were on your way to visit your grandfather at a hospital in St. Anne de Bellevue on Saturday and then you were off to a wedding on Sunday. I was in awe of your beauty and would steal glances whenever I could so as not to be a complete creep and stare at you. I wanted to talk to you more but was to shy to ask for your number. I regret that. I keep wishing that train ride was just a little longer, Mia :(

San Fransisco, US.
Bag Didn’t Blow Up
Location: Gate 80

It was just a bag of dirty socks and laundry apparently. I thought you were super cute and I wish(ed) you luck on your law career before you walked off to Gate 89 to Dulles. I regretted not being able to talk to you longer, it seemed we had a natural flow there for a moment. If you want any contacts in the bay, feel free to email me back here, and we can meet up in the future. Thanks, Stephanie.

Griffin.

I Got A Parking Ticket
Location: Oakland Lake Merritt/Grand

I was standing outside my car, frustrated at my parking ticket which happened to be WRONG. I noticed a few people standing outside their cars as well, looked over at you and we made EYE CONTACT. I don’t think I held in my excited smirk to well.

You shouted over the noisy traffic. “Did you get a ticket?”
Me, “What?”
“Did you get a ticket?”
Me, “Yeah!”
You told me you once got one that you didn’t deserve either.

I went back to my business of taking pictures of the ‘scene’ and you walked north down 19th St. with what looked like a bag of laundry and said, “Well, have a good day!”

You were parked with a small red SUV, you have curly hair, khaki pants, dirtied white shoes, a backpack, and I mentioned bag of laundry.

Rooftop Metropolitan Mus. of Art on 8-3-13, Around 7-8 PM
Location: Upper East Side, 5th Avenue at E82nd St.

I was sitting on a wooden bench on the right, alone, rimless spectacles, blue shirt. You have been standing 3-4 meters away, together with your mother (?), blond hair, wearing a white-gray/black-stripped top and gray Adidas sneakers. We had eye contact for 2-3 times, lasting multiple seconds. We smiled at each other, and I loved your smile! You two went away. Later, we met again near the bar when I was strolling around. Wanted to say hello to you, but then you were gone and I could not find you again. This was between 7-8 pm on 8-3-13 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, rooftop). Still thinking of you. Please get in touch with me. Hope you will read this.

New York, US.
I Rejected You, You Rejected Me Back
Location: New York

We met last week. I had too much to drink, which is unlike me. I enjoyed kissing you and from the bit of talking we did, we seemed to have some things in common and I liked your personality. I left abruptly–I was a bit embarrassed and thought it best to go home. I didn’t mean to tease you or reject you, I just had too much to drink. After a few days, I found you online and sent a friend request. I was hoping to see you again, kiss you again, and let you meet the real me. I should have said this in a message then, but I felt awkward. If you rejected my request because you’re not interested, I understand. But if hearing any of this changes your mind, send me a friend request. That night we met, I stupidly said, “If we’re meant to meet again, we’ll meet again.” I’d like to meet you again, if you’d like to.

Clark Street 2/3 Violinist 6 pm Yesterday
Location: Brooklyn Heights

You were playing the most beautiful reel as I passed you on my way to catch the 2/3. We made eye contact, I grinned like a teenager, and went on my way, and kept listening to you play as I walked down the stairs. I’m a musician, too. The playing was so beautiful that I made my way back up the stairs and put a dollar into your violin case. I wanted to leave my phone number, too, but there was something sacrosanct about the beauty of what you were playing that I didn’t want to ruin it.

So I just left the dollar, which was definitely not enough. I’m a poor musician, though. You MUST have a girlfriend or wife, as handsome as you are. But even if you are married, well… real recognizes real. You’re a beautiful musician. And if this somehow finds you and you happen to be single, which is not likely, my name is Abby. And I was wearing a strapless long leopard print dress. I’m an opera singer who now has a massive crush on a violinist whose name I will probably never know.

Dublin, Ireland.
Missed Connection on Flight from Dublin to JFK
Location: Dublin

This is completely out of the ordinary for me, but I thought ‘why not’. This is a long shot, but just in case, I am throwing this out there, otherwise I would wonder ‘what if’. I was on Delta Flight 198 with you from Dublin to JFK on July 18th. I thought you were very attractive and tried to begin a conversation with you about the book you were reading, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”. As you were leaving you asked me if I was in Dublin often, and I replied ‘no’. The truth is I can go to Dublin whenever I wish. If you are interested and happen to come across this posting, please reply and include what I was wearing and how many little milks you had in your tea ;) This way I know it is really you replying. I hope this finds you.

***

Distance is not so much
like walking a thousand miles
or being separated
by concrete blocks.
Distance is like
when we caught each other’s eyes
on a crowded train
and looked another way,
pretending to be interested
in electric poles.

(one of the poems I wrote with Ollie in Casa)


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