A Wise Woman Once Told Me…
By Michelle Seucan
This is a personal essay about the unexpected whirlwind of bonding with strangers, inspired by a conversation that I had with my professor when I was studying abroad in Italy a few summers ago.
A wise woman once told me, we have yet to meet all the people that will love us in this life. It happened one summer evening, during my time studying abroad in Florence, when I was walking down the narrow cobblestone streets with my art history professor after dinner. We were surrounded by ancient statues lining the streets, beautiful women wearing Gucci at sunset, and the mystical Renaissance architecture telling a thousand different stories. But that night, my professor had her own share of stories to tell, too. Her amber gold eyes glistening behind the thick blue trademark glasses of hers as she spoke, their vibrant color commanding your attention. She talked about her career as a children’s book illustrator, the different languages she spoke, the college students she taught back in New York, and even comical tales of past lovers around the world. As we were crossing the Ponte Vecchio, we stopped to admire the Arno River. It was glistening with a cryptic sunset purple, the kind of purple that makes you want to spill everything that is going on in your mind, even if it is to a person you just met.
Maybe it was the universal romanticism of Florence, or the truth-inducing purple of the river, or maybe it was that our words were still energized by the tortellini our taste buds had just savoured merely minutes before, but those words have touched me in a way that no others had until then, leaving me with a beautiful melancholy. It’s only human tendency to worry about the future; to worry if we’ll ever find true love, or better friends, or if we’ll ever make the indelible memories we see glamorized by cinematic aesthetics. We think that the current people in our lives are the best we’ll ever have, but that belief gets debunked with the beginning of every new chapter in our lives.
After that trip, the more I dwelled on those words, the more I realized how much truth they held. I’d think back to my middle school days, when I thought my friend group was as good as it gets, not realizing how much more fulfilling my life and relationships would become in only a few years’ time. Meeting one of my current best friends in the most unexpected way, her appearance into my life like a tiny droplet from the universe. It started so simply, as a kind gesture to join me for a last-minute poetry reading. That one event led to more adventures together in the city, along with late night talks on her porch, the sleepovers making pancakes in the middle of the night, and all our future plans of living together. We began to discover more similarities with one another; our shared interest in spirituality and manifestation, foreign films, electronic pop music, and even our goal of someday backpacking across Europe. We’ve spilled our deepest secrets, and have been there for one another whenever we were going through personal struggles or mental breakdowns. Who would have known that a poetry reading on a random Wednesday night would have bonded two strangers for life?
It really puts things into perspective, knowing that you’ll never know who will come into your life leaving an impact. I’ve learned to open myself to the world and embrace the randomness of it all, for if there’s one thing that my professor’s words have taught me it’s that you can’t plan your life out. And just how two strangers bonded over a fruitful conversation in Florence, another two bonded at a poetry reading in New York City—the difference being that one pair never saw each other again, while the other remained in each other’s lives.
People come and go but, one thing is for certain, they will always teach you something.
The conversation that I had with my art history professor in Italy really touched me in the sense that it helped me see the bigger picture of my life. After that night in Florence, her words made me reflect on how random life is, and how so many things await us. She reminded me of my friend (who I wrote this essay about as well), who was also a stranger before becoming someone really important in my life. While writing this essay, I realized that just how quickly strangers can enter our lives and create memorable bonds with us, they can just as easily become strangers again.
Michelle Seucan is a writer and poet who is currently a senior in high school in Staten Island, NY. She is the Arts & Culture Editor of HALOSCOPE and the Co-Director of Research at ReDefy. She is also a Teen Activist Project organizer at NYCLU and previously the Co-Director of Journalism for Finxerunt, a student-run nonprofit that aims to address socioeconomic issues. She is an internationally published poet and has won several Scholastic gold & silver keys, along with being an American Voices Award Nominee. She is looking forward to building her network and honing her craft as a creator.