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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Now & How Journal: Travel writing and the magic of talking to strangers 

Prompt #2: Write about one experience with a stranger that left an impression on you.  
Lauren Gulden
The journal Lauren Gulden is taking on her trip.

I’m writing this week’s column to you from above the clouds because I’m off to the AWP Writer’s Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. While I’m gone, I’m going to meet many authors from all over the country and learn from panels, poetry readings and speeches.  

Most importantly, I’m going to write all about it, which, of course, I’m very excited about.   

Today’s prompt is to write about one stranger who has left a lasting impression on you. What was the experience like? Did you engage it? Why did it leave your head spinning?   

My experience happened about six years ago when I was in middle school. My parents and I went up to Sandusky, Ohio to hang out, go to Cedar Point as we often do, and spend the night at a hotel.  

The night was creeping up on us and we were having trouble finding a hotel, so we made a stop at a small diner near Lake Erie to eat dinner and decide our plans for the remainder of the evening.  

Our server greeted us, and immediately, I could see she had a warm energy – the kind of energy you want around even when your social battery is gone. She was the type of server to sit in the booth with you, ask about your day, and care about the answer. Her name was Geri.   

Throughout our meal, we made enough conversation for her to understand that we didn’t know where we were going to stay for the night. When she heard this, she rang us up and clocked out of her shift early.   

Geri said, “I have a house you can stay at.”

We were interested and felt amused at the oddness in the situation.  

The next thing I knew, our car was following our server’s car to her house. My mom said she felt like something aligned was happening to us, something meant to be.  

When we arrived, Geri showed us around. It was a pretty rental-style lake house right on the lake. The outside was a pastel yellow, with the inside lined with beach décor and floral twin beds.   

She gave us the key as we said our ‘thank you’s, and then I never saw her again. I just remember reading my book with my mom that night while we marveled at the situation.  

So, now flying to my new adventure, I’m most excited for the strangers. One of my favorite things to do is talk to new people. You never know what stories will be shared and what new memories will be made.   

It could make for some rather good creative writing ammo too. 

Photo Caption: My little journal I brought along specifically for this Kansas City trip 

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