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I’m Obsessed With Figuring Out Stories For People I Come Across

A picture of a mother smiling at her son, who is smiling back at her.

I’m obsessed with inventing stories for people I come across.

An overwhelming curiosity makes me ask myself what their lives might be like.

I want to know what they do, where they’re from, their names, what they’re thinking about at that moment, what they regret, what they hope for, whom they’ve loved, what they dream of…

-Gustave Flaubert, as quoted in The Art Of Travel

Ha I’m so like this, although I’d substitute ‘figuring out’ for ‘inventing’.

It’s amazing what you can figure out about a person’s story simply by being around them for a few minutes with an open mind.

Travel presents a great opportunity to do a lot of this since you meet a lot of new people along the way. My pocket Moleskine notebook is peppered with scribbled notes about interesting people that I see while traveling, like this:

“Woman running through graveyard paths with son like it is a park. They live in the neighborhood next to here. He is recently adopted.”

The downside about doing this while traveling is that you usually don’t get to be around the people long enough to decide if your theories about their story are right or not.

I never did get to talk to the woman and the boy, but if I lived in the area I’m sure I would have run into them enough times to make a bit of conversation and get a general idea if I was right about their story.

In a way though I guess that has it’s own particular charm to it. It’s kind of nice to imagine that yes the boy was indeed adopted by such a giving and caring woman. He might have had things tough leading up to the adoption but from what I could see the rest of his life was likely to be a happy one, and I’m totally ok with happy endings even if they’re only theories :P.