Sometimes when your hitchhiking around people will see a chance to burn some built up steam with you. They see someone who relies on karma and instantly trust you with their stories secure in the fact that your merely a traveller passing through. Their words will never be repeated in the town by a travelling person they reason.
I have been an ametuer psychologist at times by simply not speaking just staying quiet and strangers have offloaded their life stories on me. I don´t offer any opinión or judgements and why would I? Sometimes people just want to hear themselves talk.
One particular conversation will stick with me forever, it was early in my travelling days and the first time a stranger had confided in me with an extremely private and emotional story. I don´t think anyone had ever spoken to me so nakedly before, I say naked because I can´t think of any other suitable description for her words. To the point, it intimidated me. Conversations were not meant to be so deep and blunt, especially not with strangers.
I was sitting outside at a picnic table by a bar, a band was playing some Croatian music and I was thinking over the days hitchhiking and contemplating my next move.
Find a hostel, sleep, then head on towards Bosnia I figured.
I took in the surrounding crowd, a lot of young Croatians smoking. Even the teenagers huddled in circles sharing cigarettes. A lady, probably in her forties stood over the table I sat at and said something in Croatian.
“O you speak English, do you might if I sit beside you”
“Of course, not”
I lifted my backpack off the seat and shuffled over politely.
Brunette, very thin, an aged but energetic face with yellow teeth from years of chain-smoking. She pulled out a pack of cigs, Marlboro Gold. I never refuse a Marlbaro Gold.
We got to chatting, though she talked more than I. She learnt English while working in a call center and always wanted to visit Ireland she claimed. She questioned my hitchhiking habits with an intense curiousity, everything was intense. She kept strict eye contact and never allowed a break in the conversation, always talking like silence was dangerous.
Rushed sentences quickly followed, born in Split, how the stars in Split are beautiful, a daughter about 15 who liked One Direction, have another cigerette.
Trust is important she claimed, trust is all that matters. When she lived in Split she would leave her car open and never lock the door of her apartment. She didn´t care that her boyfriend would complain and tell her to lock the door. Never, she needed to trust she told me. I was apparently trust worthy, I was a listener she said.
We got up and walked around the town a little, she continued to talk about her life and dreams lots of private stuff.
“You sure trust a lot” I said
“I know I can trust you, I want to tell you something”
“I was raped”
How do you respond to that? I didn’t, stuck for words I just returned her eye contact, completely shaken by her words, I wished she hadn´t said that. I felt awkward, like I had to say something, we had stopped walking.
She began telling me the story, 17, near her family’s apartment at night, he came from behind and had a knife to her neck. She didn’t hate him though, she hates nobody she told me. Even while it was happening she told him it’s OK, I don´t hate you´. She spoke the entire time, that’s why he never killed her she said, because she didnt hate him.
But you should, the bastard I replied, but she interrupted me. He isn’t all people, people aren’t bad she said.
How could she say this? The cunt wanted to kill her. She told me about her struggles with depression and boyfriends after it happened. Cnversation that went beyond my knowledge of conversations before. 21 years old and I had never heard anyone speak to me like so, raw. A night that had changed her life forever, that she had replayed in her mind countlessly for years but possibly only ever shared the story with one or two people, and I was one.
I didn’t need to get a Hostel, why not stay at hers she suggested we could have a few drinks, her daughter was at a friends, she could call her and tell her to stay the night there.
I knew what she was hinting at, she had just told me stuff she needed to say out loud. Private information. Some people might know you all your life and you will never have an intense conversation like we had, two strangers but not really now.
She really was a nice lady, sure old but the shadow of the beautfiul girl she used to be still remained. A good figure and piercing eyes.
“I better go to the Hostel, I have an early start”
I pussied out, to intimidated by a woman who wanted to tell me everything and spend a night together then wave me off in the morning never to speak again. I know if I was back their today as I write this story things would happen differently. I had much maturing to do on the road, and still do. I really regret not going back with her place though to this day. I know she is one of the most kind person I have ever meet and that conversation will leave her image imprinted in my mind forever.
I wanted to share that conversation because it was a big moment in my hitchhiking life, the strenght of her caracther has influenced me a lot on the road. I always am honest and never jump to conlusions about someone, who knows what they have suffered in the past?