Hello old friend, it feels a little strange to see you here, in the car with me once again. On a seat that practically had your name. The lines around your mouth are a little deeper, the ones on your forehead too. Not much else has changed and yet everything has changed.
So where have you been? Any new tales of old lands? Are you seeing new sights and smelling new smells? Are you meeting interesting new people? Do you remember that old man we met in Petra – the one who sold us those ancient Nabethean coins?! Surely, you did not believe they were from the Nabethean civilization I know I didn’t, but I never got them verified. The truth could not have been even half as interesting as his story. Another memory I remember as clear as daylight is bobbing up and down with you on the Dead Sea. We could have floated all our lives, why did we drown?
The one habit I have not yet been able to break is that of lugging around too much baggage.
Remember the six pairs of shoes that I carried for our three-day trip to Goa?
I”ll forgive you even if you don’t because I know you’ll never forget that night in the taxi, on the way back to our hotel, when I slept on your chest. I did not sleep long enough to dream, but I did sleep long enough to be at peace with what could never be.
Three days earlier, when I took that flight, I never expected you would leave everything to be with me. But you did. And you held on tight to me, through every moment of every night, every moment of every day. Even in the shower!!!
And when you finally left, I was expecting it. I had been expecting it for months. Your non stop chatter, crazy pranks, silly jokes and poor imitations of me, all said you would miss me. You knew that, I knew that.
And then you left, silently, without even saying good-bye. Tell me, dear old friend, did we give up our lives for just those three days or had we been living all our lives just for those three days?
I never thought I would enjoy Florence without you. I am sure that sparkle in my eye that my companion mentioned, while I was looking up at Michelangelo’s David, was a passing thought of you. Florence was cold, even though it was almost April and I was grateful to have a warm hand in my mine. Such beautiful paintings, such fine sculptures, they were enjoyed by all. But the poetry in my ears, that was just for me. Florence, don’t stop sending me those messages, I promise I will be back soon.
Wanderlust will take me back. Back to the rain forests, back to the khareef season, back to the Pyramids of Egypt, back to Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak.
I wonder how different will they be this time and what will I now see? Will it be like the last time, when we looked down upon Hong Kong from the peak of a mountain, holding a bottle of champagne between us, me, my eyes set on the stars, you, focused on the dirt at our feet?
Or will it be like Salalah, finding myself all alone in the first rains of the season, strangely joyful in my solitary state?
Well, come what may, I must travel again. And if we happen to be in the same cathedral at the same time, lets hold hands one more time in front of God. It’s the one souvenir I will always cherish the most.