Here I find myself in another town square, watching the teeming crowds move about as the last rays of the evening sunlight lick the tops of the buildings and towers around. To me it's another strange city in another strange country, yet the sight has become familiar in a way. I start to recognize the same people even though I've never seen anyone here before, nor will I probably ever again.
From my cafe table on the corner I observe the droves of people smoking as though Don Drapper really did make ad campaigns for cigarettes. Young and old, it didn't matter. You're be greeted by a puff of smoke around every corner. There's the group of high school kids laying siege to a local store front, the two or three chaperones desperately trying to keep the mob in line. Similarly a hearty command and a plea for cooperation is heard not far away as an American couple try to reign in their two kids, who are clearly on a sugar high. A group of asian tourists pass by unintentionally doing their best impressions of a flock of flamingos with cameras, as they make their way back to their fish tank on wheels. The guide with the headset and tiny flag leading the charge. There's a couple of fashionistas in pea coats braving the cobblestone in heels, hauling the fruits of their latest shopping spree. They never seem to make eye contact with anyone, they just look through you. Then of course there are the locals, who clearly only navigate this space because its necessary to make it to the closest tram or metro station. You know this path has become second nature to them, the way they maneuver the crowds with deft precision. And in the middle of it all is me, an inconspicuous traveler who no one knows is out of place until I open my mouth. Like I said it's all a new sight, but it seems to be reoccurring in each of the cities I've been to only with slight differences.
It's here that I'm full immersed in the feeling of sonder. I am a leaf on the wind, about to be picked up and blown to another destination. None of the people will have known I was even here, except perhaps as another face in the ever shifting crowd. And in return I will say the same of them. Traveling alone half way across the world, I don't think I've ever felt more like a speck of cosmic dust in a brief and fleeting existence. And for some reason, in the middle of this experience all I can think about is this one song by 90's rock band Third Eye Blind called "Motorcycle Drive By", because I can finally understand the chorus.
"I've never been so alone. And I've never been so alive."