One of the guys had hopes of moving to Vietnam, the other to Amsterdam. The women were good looking, the kind you wanted to be around, and the tall one with the beachy hair owned a house on the coast, one with a patio that stretched out and looked over the harbor and the beach, the cliffs that curled around the corner to the south. We had been drinking and playing with the puppies, laughing about how they pee all over the floor at that age, and we could still see the islands off the coast thanks to the light of the moon.
It seems I can only put creative words together when I’m on trains anymore, when I’m watching the world go by and I have eaten the sandwich and drank the coffee and maybe had a piece of cake or a pastry. There’s something relaxing about the hum of the train, surprisingly quiet and comforting. Everyone here looks content, reading a newspaper or a book and going off to the dining car for a coffee, which makes it a good place to think and a good place to write.
Last night was a good one, the kind you think about having before the trip and the kind you remember forever after it happens. I’ve been getting lucky like that the last couple months. You’re sitting at a bar one moment having a cider on ice and watching the band and looking at the people come in and out and all of a sudden a few hours later you’re a part of the team, buying rounds and accepting rounds and looking across the bar and seeing familiar faces and being included in group decisions, sitting on top of body boards in the back of small cars and wondering how anyone could drive with the windshield that fogged up. Then you see it is nothing but a dirt road and the only danger is catching the leg of one of the dogs that’s lying in the shadows on the side of the street. But the moon was bright enough that we could see the dogs.
Back at the house it was the behind the scenes sort of shit, the glasses of vodka and shots of brandy and hand-rolled cigarettes, the next lit before the first was finished. That’s what happens in the early morning, when you see the stars are starting to get sleepy, the same way you can see it in everyone’s eyes. You can look up at them and they are very beautiful and very special and the fact that you understand that they are already fading away makes it all the more appropriate to think about. I could see very clearly that it was all fading away but that did not mean any of it was any less of a sight to see or a place to be.
There’s an interesting chance that I could see one or all of them again, and just as discouraging a chance that it’s all over, all done with and just something that happened one night in Portugal on a quest to show them I’m no different, not anyone to assume things about but certainly someone who would be happy to empty the little he had in his pockets for the next round, the next laugh. I wanted to show them that the purpose of my travels is not merely to see the world, but to meet the people who make it what it is. I’ve learned more about countries in four hour after parties than I ever did in a guide book, and last night was no exception.
The sunrise is always a good thing to try and see in Europe as an American, mostly because it is very unlikely that you planned it. But then when it happens you realize that, in a way, you had planned it all along.