Sit down and watch someone. Don’t just look at him, watch. Do you ever see someone and wonder what they’re thinking? I do, all of the time. If I see someone who appears to be puzzled, my mind begins to race, trying to come up with reasons as to why they feel that way. I used to not care about these transient figures in my life. I didn’t care about their feelings and opinions. I didn’t know them, I didn’t know their name or their age or where they were from or anything else about them for that matter. But things have changed. I may not know anything about someone, but now my mind is always churning for answers about people I come across.
One person made me begin my new way of thinking. She was not a member of my family, or a close friend, but a little girl; a stranger. That little girl rewired the hard circuitry of my brain completely in a matter of moments. I will never see that little girl again, but I will always recall the vivid memory I have from the instant I met her.
I was sitting on a sensationally stiff lobby seat in the Chicago O’Hare airport, encircled by mountains of luggage. I was the deemed “official bag watcher”, a cleverly worded euphemism from my parents that really meant “Watch our stuff. Lose any of it, and your head’s on the chopping block.” Amid my intensely grueling task of sitting and staring, a young girl, no older than four, found me hidden in my cove of baggage. She jumped on the seat next to me and stared. I politely looked at her, gave her the obligatory nod and smile and looked back at the luggage. I tried to ignore her, like you do to a dog when you want it to leave you alone, but out of the corner of my eye I could still see her looking at me. I concentrated on ignoring her presence until I was brutally interrupted.
“Hi! My name’s Kelsey!”
Her voice stunned me. It sounded like delicate wind chimes. She said those four words with so much enthusiasm, surely her vocal cords had split. I was both surprised and confused at her outburst, and I never had time to register a response. As I began to analyze the situation a woman, who I assumed to be the girls mother, ran up to us. She violently scolded the young girl for running away and fiercely apologized to me. I nodded at the woman as she turned around and dragged the little girl away by her wrist. I will never forget the expression displayed on that little girl’s face. It was a combination of anguish, distress, annoyance, and one single tear that rolled down her cheek.
I could not comprehend why she looked so upset. All that had happened was her mother had retrieved her from the inner depths of an enormous airport. I would have been scared if I were alone in such a big place at that age. It was at that moment that my mind began to stir. I started to apprehend the reasons behind the little girl’s reaction. All she wanted was someone to listen, someone to care about what she had to say. I believe every one has a story to tell, and every one deserves to have that story listened to. Maybe that little girl just wanted to tell me what her favorite color was, or the reason why she was in the airport. I won’t ever know her motive for trying to initiate a conversation with me, I can only guess. Ever since the moment in which that little girl disappeared from my life, I have cared. I have cared about those strangers with the puzzled looks, I have cared about those stranger’s opinions, and I have wanted to listen; something I would not have learned to do without her. That little girl made me believe that everyone has their own story that deserves to be heard.