A rainy morning. The internet in the bar where I had eaten my diner the evening before was slower than slow. People walked in, greeted each other. Whenever a new person entered the room he would go around the tables, kissing people, shaking hands. My table was included in the tour as well.
I left when the rain stopped. It was Corrie's birthday today. I was wearing brand new and very expensive walking socks. My feet were cheering at every step.
I walked along a canal. Walking along water is comforting in many ways, not in the least because you don't have to worry about getting lost.
There were men fishing, even men sleeping in small tents. They had been out all night waiting for the night carp. It sounded like some mythic species.
I saw a leaf lying on the ground, a leaf I don't see too often. I looked up and saw the mistletoe hanging in the trees. Huge balls. Beautiful.
Mistletoe figures prominently in Greek and Nordic mythology. Although these days some people still consider it a pest that kills trees and devalues natural habitats, it was recently recognized as an ecological keystone species. A broad array of animals depend on mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots, transferring pollen between plants, and dispersing the sticky seeds.
There was nobody to kiss.
The sky stayed grey, the green balls continued to hang over my head for most of the stretch. Just before I reached Rethel there was a gate blocking the path. The way back was too long, the factory on the other side looked scary and enormous. I climbed the gate.
Truck drivers stared at me. I took me ages to reach the entrance gate. Barbed wire. What on earth were they making here?
I had to hurry to catch a slow train to Reims. I got off. I found a cheap hotel. I checked in. Walked up to my room. Looked at my hands. Saw my walking cane wasn't there.
Loosing things. I could write a book about it.
Back to the station, back to Rethel. I hadn't been in Reims an hour even. But my cane was there already. The train conductor told me she had found it and left it at the station in Reims. Up and down. Repeating myself. I travelled back again empty handed. In Reims a man in grey handed me my golden cane.
It was 6 already. Corrie had invited me to drink a glass of wine with her at 6.30 sharp. I wanted to find a quiet corner near the city centre.
I walked at random, crossed streets, walked around corners. Suddenly I stood eye in eye with the cathedral. I bowed my head. And saw a sign. It said "chilled bottles of champagne for sale to drink in the area around the cathedral".
6.29. I took off my shoes. There I was. In a stained three piece walking suit. The cathedral bells sounded when I popped the champagne bottle.
Happy birthday Corrie. Here's to your journey.