Our red 2007 Subaru Forester safely carried us on another long road trip this summer! Fred and I traveled east to Toronto, Ontario, to pick up Michaela and her belongings. She was moving out of her apartment since she’s spending next year in DC at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as a predoctoral fellow. (More on this in a future post!)

After leaving the metropolis (amid much honking and aggressive behavior by Ontario drivers), we took a short side trip to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side to see the natural wonder. Along the way we stopped at a Tim Horton’s fast food place for lunch and were waiting to order. A family came in behind us and looked around, seemingly confused. The woman wondered aloud why people were not approaching the counter to order, but were hovering back by the door, and she asked me, “Isn’t there a queue?” Noting that she spoke with a distinct British accent, I replied that we were Americans and weren’t sure how the line was forming either. She chuckled and said “We’re all foreigners!”

When we finally arrived at the falls after winding through the cluster of shops, casinos and hotels, I pondered the experience while looking through the mist over to the United States and seeing our flag waving. Observing your own country from another offers perspective and a fresh viewpoint, whether it be physical or philosophical. People on the US side were gazing over the falls toward us, and we were gazing toward them.

Gathered at the edge of the roaring water with hundreds of others, many probably foreigners like us, reminded me that people are people. As humans, we have much in common! I heard so many different languages being spoken that I lost count, but I observed people taking photos, pointing and using similar body language, no matter what verbal language they spoke, to communicate about the view. We were all taking selfies and ussies with the falls as a backdrop so that someday we can look back and say, “We were there!”

We’re on this spinning planet together — the falling water at Niagara didn’t notice us or our differences. We are bound together by our humanity, our place in the universe, our desire to record that we existed and saw a place, and our confusion as to how to properly form a line at a fast food place in a country we don’t call home.