Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
The man is in a beret and a sweater-jacket with a high neck and a vaguely American Southwest pattern. It gets my attention because I’m in Budapest, Hungary, quite a long way from New Mexico. I give him a smile on account of his jacket and his oldsterness. He asks me a question. I do manage an apology and the sentence “I don’t speak Hungarian,” which is sadly obvious and also odd to remark in the language one is claiming not to speak.
He pauses for a moment–we are waiting at a time-consuming crosswalk that will not give us leave to pass. Before the sign changes, he lights up, grabbing the collar of his notable coat as he repeats the question. I am not following him, so he shivers a bit to help communicate the message. I laugh, and shake my head: no, I am not cold. I fan my face with a hand and stick my tongue out like a cartoon character in the desert. He laughs in reply. I gesture to my suitcase and wipe my forehead, trying to give cause for my heat stroke. He nods at my suitcase and flexes his muscle at me, and we laugh again. We laugh right through this crosswalk, onto the other sidewalk, and to another side-by-side wait for another glacial signal, pleased with our ability to conquer the language barrier on this brisk spring morning.