The only difference between me and this Wild Child is...

We met a man from Austria.

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He was sleeping in his car too, camping at Frog Falls with a kayak on his roof. I am a mama bear when at a backcountry campsite with O alone and so had my guard up at first, but he put me at ease almost instantly. He was a traveler, the kind I’ve met at hostels in San Francisco and South Africa and I instantly felt his heart was good, the kind of eyes that you know before you even know them. The same eyes as every traveler. Searching and hoping. 

He was young. Probably mid 20’s. He played frisbee with O, telling him that he thought Onyx was the best name, to which Onyx replied, “I’m TWO!” and ran and climbed a tree. He tried climbing with his shoes on and it wasn’t working, so I told him to take his shoes off so he could feel the tree with his feet. He climbed up and kept saying “Mama, hands? Mama, hands?” And jumped off into my hands, where I could swing him around and around.

The Austrian went on to tell me he had just graduated with a Masters in Engineering and that he was on a three month trip to Canada. He said he had turned down the job of a lifetime, at the equivalent of M.I.T. in Switzerland, because he knew it wouldn’t make him happy. He said he always did what everyone else wanted for him and that it was the first thing that he done for him. But that he had spent every night for the past two months, alone in Canada, regretting it. Not because he wanted the job, but because the doubt was so big. The discomfort of having no safety net to return too. Travelling was the first big thing he did for himself, for his freedom, and it hadn’t turned out great. He came on a work visa and bought a flight home just yesterday because he was actually a little put off by Canada. (Mainly because he spent the majority of his time biking in Whistler and no one there would give him the time of day. I promised him Canadians were better than that and told him to go to Big White).

You know, the only difference between this wild child and me is that I don’t have someone who feels like home to be there to catch me after the decisions I make, whether I make the choice to jump or not.

He seemed so down and out, so uncertain, so unsure. I had to chuckle and he seemed a little taken aback, that I would laugh at his melancholy. I just said, “you met the wrong human if you are hoping I’ll say that you should have taken it or that turning it down wasn’t the best decision of your life. Because you just said it - that it wouldn’t make you happy. I want to make a poster of that and put it on your rearview mirror. That is actually my biggest hope + dream for all the people that I’ll ever meet. That they will make decisions to say fuck no to the things they know won’t make them happy, and to pursue freedom, no matter what society thinks of it. But man, we spend so much time looking back at that and still wanting safety, don’t we?” I chuckled once more. Onyx jumped off the tree stump again, “Weeeeeeeeeee!”

He looked at me and just said, “You know, the only difference between this wild child and me is that I don’t have someone who feels like home to be there to catch me after the decisions I make, whether I make the choice to jump or not.” And in that moment, I felt warm all over, for the connection that Onyx and I share, and also for the apt connection of strangers hearts.