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Bus ride shows it's a small world

by Shawn P. Roarke

SOCHI -- It really is a small world!

Woke up for Day 3 of my Olympic adventure feeling a bit out of sorts and disoriented. The adrenaline of coming to a foreign country and finding my way had turned into a routine. In my travels, the 72-hour mark has been the usual demarcation line for me when the novelty gives way to the tasks at hand, so I wasn't too surprised that Wednesday dawned with me a bit off-kilter.

But on the morning bus ride to the Bolshoy Ice Dome for another full day of hockey, a random encounter set me right.

Two gentlemen next to me were talking and suddenly, amazingly, the conversation turned to Rhode Island, my home state. One, a photographer, went to Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. The other, a press tribune manager at Bolshoy, went to Brown and lives in North Kingston. Both are a short distance from my childhood home in West Warwick.

What are the odds, three Rhode Islanders on one bus in Sochi? There is a joke or two in there somewhere I am sure, but they elude me in my sleep-deprived state.

As the bus rolled along, I was no longer homesick. We talked about Providence a bit and other familiar cultural touchstones. Suddenly, I was smiling again, re-energized, amazed by the random coolness this world has to offer if your eyes and ears are open to it.

Here I was 5,131 miles or so from where I first fell in love with the sport of hockey, living my dream of covering the game at its highest level while in one of the most exotic places I could imagine. Yet during a brief five-minute conversation with two complete strangers, we talked about Pawtucket, North Providence, Brown University, RISD and two of its famous students, David Byrne and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads.

No longer did I feel so overwhelmed by my surroundings, the tasks that lie ahead and the challenges that will have to be conquered. Instead, I felt at home half a world away from my home.

A small world indeed!

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