I saw a familiar emotion in my new friend as his complexion turned to red, his nose scrunched tight, his water filled eyes quickly went wide to stop the tears from falling. Recognizing the pain and knowing the emotion I quickly did what I know best and I went to embrace my new friend. Embarrassed by my lack of concern for where I was I quickly moved away lowering my head; as I know the Asian culture, I somewhat know men and I absolutely without fail know crazy me and I wouldn’t change any of them. I felt horrible! He didn’t want the emotions that followed an embrace, he didn’t want the attention, he didn’t want the many people around us to stare and he didn’t want to be alone. I had plans with other friends and they were waiting for me at the hotel. Torn, I asked him to get off the metro so that we could talk because leaving a person to be alone in pain was just not in me. My heart ached, as I know how it feels to lose a loved one and not be at home when you find out.
He did not have to say a word to me. When the phone call came in and I watched his expressions, it didn’t matter what language he was speaking, all I could hear was his heart because it was right there on his face. There are certain expressions that are universal; pain, love and joy. If you learn to listen with your heart; you’ll be able to see them all as if they were your own. Today he gained an American friend and I hope as I sprinted through the crowded streets of Nanjing making him chase me dodging cars, taxis and motorbikes that when he reflects on his grandmothers passing that he smiles knowing she had 90 beautiful years and that a perfect stranger cared enough to make him smile on a day that he might otherwise be alone with his pain.