• After It Rains
• I'm Jesse
      • My Birthday?
      • You Remembered!
• Pool? Animal Style!
      • Dumplings w/Neptune
• Sicilian Sculptor
• The Golden Years
• Human Hangers
• Just a Barista
• I Need to Dance
• Can't Stop Looking Up
• Be Careful What...
• The Collection
• Into the Light
• A Perfect Interview
• The Abbey
• Who You Know?
• What's This Life For?
• Unexpected Talent
• Just a Dog's Day
• Chester
• Darren
      • Darren and the Circus
• Voice of God
• Aaron
• 5350

• Resurrection
• Private Dancer
• Eye Contact
• Bullying
• The Surreality of It All
• Sound of Silence
• 31 Days of Christmas
• Giant!
• Fear or Comfort?
• You're Different
• Another One Bites...
• Stroll with the Clouds
• Walking with Banshee

After It Rains! (10/07/23)

Since I was little, when sitting in an airport, I watched the people walking by wondering what was behind their journey. Why did they dress the way they did, what was behind their choice of luggage—and all those stickers, why were they smiling, why weren't they smiling.

I was known for picking somebody in the crowd and trying to engage in conversation.

People really did like talking about themselves—at least they used to. But as time moved forward, I'd found people were less interested in engaging in conversation—and more interested in their phones.

The younger travelers would usually look at me with disinterest, or disdain, though they knew nothing about me. The older travelers seemed hesitant to trust, though they were at last more likely to respond. "If you like the rain." "If you like the sun." "It's too cold for me." "It's too hot for me." Really?

These days, it was rare that somebody would be willing to talk, even if it was only about the weather.

"Beautiful day isn't it?" I asked an older lady, sitting by herself, next to me and my friends, as we waited at the gate, on our way to a three week trip to Europe.

Then out of the blue, "Yes, isn't it beautiful after it rains." Damn, a response.

Trying not to be too intrusive, but knowing we were waiting for a plane to London, "Are you visiting London, or going home?"

"Visiting. My husband had promised this trip for decades. It's sad I could only make the trip after his death." Now I knew there was a story.

"How about you young man?"

That generated shock on multiple levels. She was asking about me, there was no phone in sight, and I rarely got called a young man. Hell, usually I was asked if I wanted my senior discount.

Trying to be humble, "just visiting." Though I'd been to London more times than I could count, I realized some people didn't like to hear that—that was another story in itself.

At this point I thought I'd introduce Marian to myself and the friends I was traveling with, who were sitting around me the entire time. I hoped we wouldn't scare her away. It didn't—it just multiplied the engagement.

Changing seats once on the plane, so we could continue to talk, I had to admit, I was bored to tears by the life story Marian shared. But I still listened.

An accountant for the same company for over forty years, her husband had a county job for forty years as well. Both had recently retired, and as her husband had promised, now that they were retired, they would travel. Then suddenly, he died, only a month after leaving his job.

With no children, and no family, Marian was about to embark on a new adventure, by herself, doing something she'd dreamt of doing for decades.

"I have a sense you've been to London many times?" she asked. She opened the door, I didn't have to.

"Several. It's a beautiful city, especially after it rains." That got a smile from Marian.

"I live in Sonoma. It's also beautiful after it rains, or when the fog lifts, the sun reflecting off the wet surfaces, the air fresh and invigorating. I can only imagine London is the same."

"Definitely. I also live in Sonoma—Healdsburg. Small world. Are you going to London for the history, architecture, museums?"

"Yes," she said laughing. "I'm going to take in everything I can. Then I'm taking the train to Paris, then Madrid, to do the same there."

"Sounds like a wonderful trip. Three beautiful cities, though I have to admit, in my opinion, it's even more stunning outside the cities. The landscapes, small villages, and people, are a wonderful world in themselves."

"I decided for this first trip I'd visit three capitals—London, Paris, and Madrid, by train. I heard that's the best way to see the countryside outside the big cities. How about you? Is this trip for business or pleasure?"

"One in the same. We're visiting friends outside of London, then heading to the Loire valley, then off to Bilbao. Same countries as you, different regions. But also traveling by train. Gives us time to work, and time to talk to anybody that's willing."

Offering to show Marian around the big cities, and the countryside if she wanted to join us, she quickly agreed, all of us modifying our itineraries to accommodate our new friend.

Landing in London, we were off for three weeks of sightseeing, eating, and taking in every sight and experience we could. Marian was like a sponge, willing to visit sites off the beaten path, and try even the strangest of foods. She even made her best attempt to speak a few words of French and Spanish, causing many that we met to quickly switch to English.

Over the three weeks of a wonderful trip, we'd not only visited the capitals on Marian's list, but many smaller communities and a few extra locations along the way.

Returning to Sonoma, we agreed to have lunch the following week.

Arriving at the restaurant a week later for lunch, Marian never showed. She didn't answer her phone, or respond to texts or email. Though disappointed, there was really nothing we could do.

Later that evening, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize, a older lady named Ethel. “I was a friend of Marians.” Was? Marian had died in her sleep the night before.

"She was so looking forward to lunch. For the last week she never stopped talking about what a wonderful time she had on her trip."

Months later, once again at the airport, my friends and I were heading to Europe—Rome, Venice and Istanbul were on the itinerary for this trip.

Sitting down next to me at the gate, a young guy, appearing to be in his early twenties, seemed to be traveling alone—and looked scared to death.

"Beautiful day isn't it?"

"I really don't like the fog," he said, without putting his phone down. I was just about to get up and move on.

Then he put his phone into his backpack, "But once the fog lifts, it always leaves everything sparkling from the mist." Stereotypes got thrown out the door.

"Visiting Rome for the first time?"

"Yeah. Actually, it's my first time out of the country, and I have to admit, I'm scared to death. None of my friends wanted to go, but I had to."

"If I can ask, why do you have to?"

"A few months ago, one of my grandmother's best friends went on her first trip, met a group of strangers, and had the time of her life. Then she died only a week after she got back. I don't want to wait, and only have one trip."

#travel #Spain #London #Milan