I was nervous. Pacing my way back and forth inside the video store while waiting for the clock to strike 11.

“I have never done this,” I shake my head and mutter to myself. Only the night before, I spent the night talking to a stranger until four in the morning, and now I’m waiting to meet one of my favorite authors whose works I have followed in the last five years.

Who I have nonchalantly connected over Linkedin and invited for coffee. As if we’re friends.

As if!

Beep! My phone quietly screams from my handbag.

“I’m here”, was the short message from her. I quickly turned and got out of the video store, heading to the cafe where we promised to meet.

She sat with her back facing the outside of the cafe. She looks casual in her black t-shirt, dark-framed glasses and her hair done up.

(Later on she described that I don’t look like one of the trendy hijabis, I highly suspect that turning up in my last night’s attire has a lot to do with it too).

I sat down and we chatted briefly about where we were coming from that morning. I passed her the books that I brought for her, knowing her love for books.

I told her why I wanted to meet her. And she told me her story. My questions. Her journey. We spoke for a long time.

Her, the storyteller, and me with my pen and notebook in hand.

I probably already knew what I wanted to do for sure. But listening to her own experience was reassuring – comforting even, that she had been in the same place of curiosity – wanting to hear and tell the stories of others.

When she asked me why I wanted to be on this journey, I told her the truth.

It was the first time I had acknowledged it out loud to anyone.

She looked surprised. “Oh, wow.” She said.

“Do you remember my story about that woman?” She locked her eyes on me as she says, “She told me, don’t look for happiness. Look for the extraordinary.

Do that.”

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