I stared at her as the cab gobbled the chilly asphalt. So young, she looked, racy, tempting and in vogue. Rotterdam was completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe on May 14th, 1940 and rebuilt from scratch thereafter. Her modern skyline caught my eye and tickled my fancy. I have never met any city so adolescent and tempting like her before.
The steamy jet of water washed the dust from the lengthy traverse off of my body but did not bring solace to my mind. I was weary and tired and only a telepathic whisper, a sigh of relief, emanating from within brought sleep to my eyes. I dreamed of nothing in the short time I rested before my day began, before the next seventy two hours heartlessly kept me awake and on the run.
I was able to take short walks in between meetings. After the mutant tepid winter of the Levant the subzero temperatures felt imperative to my biological calendar. Memories from the distant past danced in my head. It had been a long time since I lived in such a cold place, yet the images were hopeful and alive. I longed for a frost that turns warm in the holding of hands. I saw our footprints in the snow, large and small entwining, crisscrossing as we hugged and swayed in a slow amble along a white path.
When it was finally over, the work, we dined in a superb seafood restaurant on the River Ijssel. Vitor, an epicure with a kind heart and a priceless sense of humor from Galicia and I sat across the table. Amid laughter and good food he talked lovingly of his homeland. I have learned more about what Spain is and is not that evening than I had from reading the many history books once upon a time. We drank a silky Caiño Blanca harvested from near the Minho river in Galicia, he told me. We talked of fish and wine, of La Coruña and Rotterdam, of the folly of men and the eternal beauty of women. Well past midnight we rode through the countryside toward Schiphol airport near Amsterdam. As the sparse old Dutch mills stood silent in the dark modern ones turned incessantly in the wind. The forty five minute drive passed in the blink of an eye as the good times always do. We hugged for an everlasting minute in the lobby of yet another hotel. "Be safe my friend Vitor", I said. "See you in March, God only knows where, dear Abufares", he replied.
I did not have sufficient time to lose myself to slumber. Instead I tossed and turned waiting for icy take-offs and landings and a tiring drive home in the rain.
"Sleep well and hold me tight", I dreamed of the words kissing my forehead then capering down my face.
"Goodnight", I closed my eyes and floated in an azure womb of adoration unbeknown to the mass of desperate men. I did not stir a muscle for the next fourteen hours.
Good morning World, I am back in Tartous.