The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

The 400th Post: Something So Perfect.

The fact that I am publishing the 400th blog post is totally amazing to me. This all started as a way to sort through notes from my travels. Since then, stories have materialized even when I didn’t expect them. Then readers materialized! Thank you!

Some of you have been here throughout, but many are new friends. You’ve been supportive, encouraging, and kind. So I have a story that I’ve been saving for quite a while. It says a lot about me, I’m afraid. It also says a lot about the blog and my travels, it seems.

Thank you for being so very NICE. 🙂

Vienna.

Vienna.

It’s my first trip to Europe, I’m 27. I’m in Vienna’s Albertina Museum. I’m trying to pay attention to Picasso’s distorted ladies and bullfighters. Instead, I keep getting distracted by a handsome guy carrying a sizable novel. The cover is printed in a language peppered with accent marks. Though we make eye contact often and smile, I am still my ugly-duckling ball of anxiety. I do wonder if he may be planning to mug me, even as he gives me shy glances through the exhibit. I’m trying to be like people in movies who go to Europe and find themselves, who never seem plagued by memories of being in junior high or worries about petty crime.

We depart at about the same moment–I with Eric, my dear friend who promised me I would fall in love with Europe, and the guy with a grandmotherly figure. We stand so close at one moment that we almost speak, then we don’t. As we leave, I take a picture of the narrow Vienna street he is treading to catch his departing profile. I spend the rest of the day smiling to myself in amazement at having been seen.

Eric and I roam for another day in Vienna then take a bus to Prague, where Eric is living. I’ll be on my own during the days and will have to conquer my nervousness by heading out solo. Jan–a lovely local boy–tells me which buses to take and avoid, and never to rush for the subway since the trains will be frequent and I’ll look foolish.

So one day, I endeavor the long escalator down to a metro station. A train is arriving, and I know I won’t make it, so I stop to pretend to read an advertisement. People rush out of the train. Someone crashes into me head on. Sorry! My English apology comes first, then he says what must have been sorry in Czech–though I’d been saying that word all day as Hello. After the shock of the collision, we recognize each other for a blink. We start off in our opposite directions, then we both stop. It’s like a yogurt commercial.

Even without the giant book, I know he’s the man from the museum. He walks back toward me and we stand in amazement. His name is Lukas, he studied English in New Jersey. He’s holding a newspaper. He asks how I am enjoying Prague.

Four days and a country away, we marvel at the chance to meet. This is enough. We say our hellos and our goodbyes in the same two minutes. He tells me to enjoy my stay and I promise I will, then he takes the steep escalator up to the street. Even with the nervousness and newness, it does seem I am falling in love with Europe. I take the next metro train without rushing, grinning and delighted to have discovered something so perfect.

–Vienna and Prague.

23 comments on “The 400th Post: Something So Perfect.

  1. stardust310
    April 25, 2014

    This is truly amazing!

  2. M-R
    April 25, 2014

    Are you not somewhere near the Schonbrunn, Paige ? I thought I remembered that narrow street … Or was it on our way to the Spanish Riding School …? Vienna was wonderful (except for our pension, which was ghastly); it’s no wonder something like that happened to you there.

    • M-R,
      It is! I was in the first district, and I think it is close to the Riding School. 🙂 I went back there to stay as well, and also stayed on some low wages for a while. It can be nice to be on a humble income abroad–more outgo, more small pleasures, perhaps. 🙂
      Paige

  3. evelyneholingue
    April 25, 2014

    Happy Anniversary! 400 posts are worth celebrating. Cheers to you and your blog.

  4. joannerambling
    April 25, 2014

    Love the photo 400 posts is nothing to sneeze at well done.

  5. heavenhappens
    April 25, 2014

    Oh my what a story! You 2 were meant to meet! There should be a Shakespearean follow up here so I will watch this space til he crops up again in your life!
    For some reason it reminds me of the book ” miss Garnets Angel” – except that is Venice not Vienna.
    I got lost in Vienna once because while I was out wandering the streets at night the snow fell and totally changed the landmarks I recognised. Took me hours to get back to my hotel- hotel Stephanie as I recall. No mysterious stranger rescued me sadly- just a long rambling walk- but I loved it.

    • 🙂 I did wonder, since I plan to go to Prague again, if I might meet him once more. Of course I will be on the lookout. 🙂
      I’ll have to look for the book.
      Getting lost in foreign cities seems to be a gift we share! Hehe! I often find myself turned around, but Vienna is a fine city for getting lost. I’ve always felt very safe there, and you may not find a Lukas, but you may very likely find an apartment where Beethoven once lived. Not too shabby at all.
      Thank you so much for your kind comment and sharing your lost tale with me as well. 🙂
      Paige

      • heavenhappens
        April 27, 2014

        Here’s hoping you do meet again, just because it would be sooooo fantastic and make a great blogpost!

      • Maybe he’ll happen upon the blog…
        I agree, it would be pretty amazing. I’d go swiftly to get a lottery ticket!
        Paige

  6. Congrats on 400! I so enjoy your stories and pics!

    • Thank you! I enjoy yours as well. I think we have some of the same sense of humor. 🙂 It’s good to know I’m not alone in that!
      Paige

  7. cavegirlmba
    April 25, 2014

    Wow. Coincidence is beautiful. Dud you try the young Czech’s dancing skills?

    • Haha, alas, nope–just a hi and goodbye. It’s more vivid than some others I met along the way, so I think coincidence is probably the key! Maybe if we’d met twice in one city I wouldn’t have blinked, but a country away? I agree, Wow. 🙂 Thanks for reading the story. 🙂
      Paige

      • cavegirlmba
        April 28, 2014

        Thanks for sharing this story – and the other ones. I like to stop by and enjoy these miniature glimpses of life.

  8. Patty B
    April 28, 2014

    Congratulations on 400 posts! that is terrific. You picked something great to write about too – Vienna! Blessings for many more years of writing!

  9. SirenaTales
    April 30, 2014

    Magical–thank you. And congratulations on 400. xo

  10. Kim
    May 1, 2014

    “Four days and a country away, we marvel at the chance to meet. This is enough.”

    I love this. I can’t help but imagine this mystery man as a dead-ringer for Jeff Goldblum 🙂 Congrats on 400!

    • Kim, hehe, I don’t think I could have been so brave if he looked like dear Jeffy. 🙂 It’s so nice to be reconnecting. Thanks for the congrats.

      Paige

  11. Christopher S. Malone
    May 1, 2014

    Happy 400th post. Keep illustrating the still frames of life.

    • Thank you, Christopher. I appreciate the support. It’s nicer to write 400 when they don’t feel like trees falling in a forest. Much. 🙂
      Paige

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