Happenstance doesn’t Happen

A traveling nurse by the name of Theresa, sporting a colorful scarf over a plaid top, sat down next to me at gate 150 of Tom Bradley’s International wing at LAX. Throughout our thirty-minute conversation, she called me, “honey child,” and “mama” singing my praises on solo traveling. Theresa was originally from Tennessee, so the “d” on the end of “child” was more or less silent.

She spoke to me like she’d known me for years, sharing information one doesn’t usually share with a complete stranger. I, too, divulged quite of bit of my life in a nutshell to her. My soul quickly recognized the light in her soul and I appreciate humans who reciprocate that sort of vulnerability. As I always iterate, it doesn’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine.

No Such Thing as Happenstance
Waiting to board my flight at LAX, not just happening to be there

Solo Traveling Free Spirits

A free spirit and divorcée herself, Theresa was impressed by my willingness to travel solo. She shared a few stories about her own lone traveling experiences. One year for her birthday, while living in Tennessee, she flew solo to New Orleans, on a whim, to celebrate. She spent all night on Bourbon Street, dancing and meeting people, wearing her finest little black dress. She went on to reference how she had a cute figure, “back in the day” with a fire in her eyes and a sly smile I recognized.

Theresa was a bartender for years. One night, she had a dream. In this dream, she was coming off of a plane wearing sunglasses. Six years later, that was the beginning of her nursing career. She relived the dream step by step right down to the sunglasses she was wearing.

No Such Thing as Happenstance

“I don’t believe in happenstance,” she confidently stated in reference to our meeting as we patiently waited to board our flight to Beijing. She was on her way to retrieve a patient or see one. Of that, I’m not quite certain. She wasn’t excited about being in Beijing as she had been many times prior and just didn’t care for it. Telling me how much I was going to love Japan, she told me she’d lived in Japan for years as a child. She suggested a temple that I must visit while in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to said temple.

Before we parted ways, she revealed a striking story that I’ll never forget. While working for Doctors without Borders, she found herself on a UN helicopter landing in the rebel conflicted Darfur region of Sudan in northeastern Africa. One night, she and a few other medical personnel were trying to save the life of a man who was part of a neighboring rebel group. She said his head was almost “completely blown off,” so his chances of survival appeared very grim.

“I don’t believe in happenstance.”

She described the “hospital” they were in as more like a one-room shack. One of the leaders of the most violent rebel groups in the region, known for raping and pillaging villages, walked into the room. He demanded they hand over the man they were attempting to save. If they didn’t comply with his demands, he’d kill every single person in the room. Without much choice, they gave the rebel leader what he wanted. “Talk about PTSD,” Theresa concluded the story.

I’ve never believed in happenstance, either.

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