A street in London, a cafe in Paris and the South of France. As I near the end of a trip, I am almost always ready to come home. But almost as soon as I land, I am ready to go again. Not right away. Not even soon. Just again.
I have gotten away from posting and sharing while I am traveling. At least for now. But I write down the bits & pieces, memories & experiences and stories that will be my take aways, my keepsakes.
I met Maria & George— two travelers sitting in the sun, drinking a glass-of-something, at a small bistro cafe just outside the Rodin Museum in Paris. I was alone. And so were they. Maria noticed that my finger was bleeding and offered me a bandaid as I sat down. She unwrapped the bandaid and helped me put it on. I asked where she was from. “Switzerland,” she said. And that’s where we began.
The server, who seemed in a hurry and as if he did not notice me, took my order. A glass of white wine. I asked if she needed anything? She said no with a smile. She had blond hair and a polite, but easy way about her. Just as the server walked away, George moved forward in his chair, whispering something to Maria and she whispered back. She looked at me and explained he was wondering how we started talking and I told him because of a bandaid. His eyes smiled at me beneath his short-but-long, shaggy-but-stylish, dark-brown-rock-star hair and he introduced himself. He was lanky, tall and his legs stretched out in front of him below his bent torso. We were sitting in a row. Me, Maria to my left and then George. I was hunched forward, eating my salad, sipping my wine. My body turned slightly towards theirs. Maria was sitting with her back straight and her knees perfectly bent at the seat of her chair, just the way the person in the middle sits so that the two on the side can see each other.
She asked me where I was from and if I had just come from the Rodin? They had just come from there too. The sun was high in the blue, blue sky, perfect for walking through the sculpture garden and seeing for ourselves Rodin’s most famous, larger-than-life, works. We talked about our favorites and ‘The Gates of Hell.’ I told them I had planned on going to the Picasso museum but had no idea how enraptured I would be with Rodin’s work.
Maria sat ever-so-close to George. As he did her. They had a familiarity. A closeness. They finished each other’s thoughts and knew each other’s stories. I wondered how long they had been together? I wondered If they were married. Or if they were lovers?
We started talking about our lives back home and our next few days. Maria & George would be celebrating. Maria is single she told me. So is George. They have known each other through boyfriends and girlfriends. Through heartbreak, marriages and divorces. Through kids and careers. Through travels and adventures. They sometimes travel alone, sometimes with others. But they often travel together. George was the best friend of the boy she had been dating way back when. They met 40 years ago. “In two days, we will be celebrating 40 years of knowing each other” she said.
As we said goodbye, I realized I did not know if they were friends or something more. I did not know if they had once been married or had children of their own. I did not know if they were lovers who were now friends, or friends who had once been lovers. I did not know if they were something else. All I knew is that they had known each other for 40 years. I let their story wash over me. In a world obsessed with labels, especially how we define who we are to each other, I let it seep into me. I let it find its way into my imagination, the wisdom of their story and the beauty in just knowing each other.
I will never forget meeting Maria & George at that cafe in Paris. They are the reason I travel. They are why, almost just as soon as I land, I cannot wait to go again.