They say all it takes is the smallest of irritant inside the mantle of an oyster to create a pearl. In a shell (pun intended), that is the basis for how our two worlds became one! October 2014 is when the ball got rolling on what is now our marriage. After spending ~4.5 years living in Sydney, Jaramogi would board a plane headed toward New York for what was his return home from living abroad. The following month during Thanksgiving dinner, I would spin a globe to choose my next winter break vacation which fell during President’s day in 2015. My finger landed near Australia and that’s when the hand of fate would land on us. In knowing that I will be booking my upcoming yearly trip, I decided to get a Delta American Express credit card to take advantage of the mileage offer.
While booking my travel, I unknowingly put the irritant in the mouth of the oyster. In booking a flight for one leg of my journey, I mistakenly chose Wednesday, March 19th to travel from Cairns to Sydney instead of my intended travel date of Wednesday, February 19th. Same weekday, same number, wrong month!!! Fast forward to February 19th, on that day (which was February 18th in NY), Jaramogi was more than likely nursing a beer and watching football trying to urge his fantasy football team to yet another weekly victory. Across the globe, I upon arriving at the airport that morning to check in, crudely found out I did not have a ticket to board my flight. The gate agent was unable to find my booking. A closer look at the itinerary revealed that the day and year were absolutely correct. Unfortunately, the month was not! Saddened… or more like devastated but undeterred, I purchased a new ticket on the spot to Sydney. Missing this flight would mean missing my appointment with the Sydney Bridge-climb. The small irritant would have to be dealt with later.
Important sidebar: I have been a very eager traveler since graduating from college. I longed for a community of like-minded individuals who also enjoy travel and provide insights on what to do and how to do it. I found this community in a Black American travel group, Nomadness Travel Tribe. The community mainly based on Facebook, and then later on Instagram, not only links travelers all around the world, but also people of color located around the world.
Before leaving for Sydney, I reached out to the Nomadness community to ask for advice on what to do when in Oceana. A couple of gentlemen (Kurt & Malik) located in Sydney immediately responded with recommendations. They also agreed to meet when I visited the city. Upon meeting, I told my new friends about my ordeal at the airport. I also mentioned I was going to try and get a refund of the ticket. When I mentioned the ticket was purchased on my AMEX card, Malik told me he had a friend who works for American Express and just left Sydney to move back home to New York. He gave his word he would connect me and this friend when I returned home to New York.
Now back in the States, I sent an Instant Messenger note to Malik asking to be put in touch with THAT guy from American Express. Jaramogi was lying in bed watching TV when his phone pinged. It was a Facebook IM from Malik and an unknown person. Malik said he had a friend that needed help but NOT that kind of help! Laughs… and if he could help me out. The unknown person was me, of course.
We got in our own private conversation and I explained the credit card related issue. Jaramogi said he worked in Corporate, but would do some research on the Consumer-side to see if I had any recourse. Jaramogi promised he would be in touch over the next couple of days. When the conversation ended, I noticed Jaramogi’s Facebook cover photo was a picture of him in front of a Hobbit House in New Zealand, a country I had just visited along with Australia. Finding this intriguing, I sent Jaramogi a Facebook friend request to take a look at the rest of the photos. He accepted, which he said was rare. He never accepts people he doesn’t know.
Seeing each other’s photos and understanding there was a clear wanderlust that existed in both of us, it did not take long for the flirtatious messages to weave themselves into the conversation for the next couple of months. Jaramogi had come back with an answer to my flight and credit card issue. And though it was not the answer I wanted, at least I was hoping to build a friendship from there.
With the promise of a pack of Tim Tams I brought in my hands all the way from Australia just for him (as per Malik’s recommendation), I asked about meeting in person. Jaramogi looking to, as he puts it “get rid of me” demands that I cook for him a meal. I told him no and suggested we have dinner at a nearby restaurant with delicious Mexican food and margaritas. I even got a Groupon for our meal! Though dinner was seafood, there were no oysters. But this was the beginning of two worlds becoming one. And all it took was that ill-purchased plane ticket… that irritant which I call a mistake was the best mistake of my life. Almost 3 years later, that pearl is well on its way to being fully harvested. And combined, Jaramogi and I would begin to embody the phrase, the world is your oyster.