The Old Man and the Sea... er, Canal
Trip Start Jul 03, 2011
172Trip End Jan 17, 2012
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Bruges has justly been described as the "Venice of the North" and an "open air museum." I spent the day walking around this city of winding canals, pretty buildings and horse-drawn carriages, stopping periodically to people-watch, boat-watch, or swan-watch. It was a beautiful day in a lazy city, and I enjoyed it lounging on various benches, monuments, and fountains.
I was sitting on one such bench, pondering the starting place of a canal which seemingly started in the middle of the street. I knew where the water was going, but couldn't figure out where it came from. As I was lost in reflection, an old man came and sat next to me, white hair matching Einsten's frantic do. He asked me where I was from and we were soon engrossed in conversation. The man inched closer a couple times in order to hear me better, and seemed to genuinely enjoy our conversation (as did I). He told me I needed at least five days to walk around the entire city, but when I pointed out to him on my map what I had seen in a few short hours, he laughed and consented that I'd seen it all already, and probably walk a lot faster than him because I'm young.
Often, when I am sitting on a park bench alone thinking, reading, or just enjoying the day, an elderly man will sit by me and strike up a conversation. Old men seem to have the best stories and are always full of sound advice about whatever given place you happen to be in. Often widowers or retired, I wonder if these men are lonely, and it makes me sad to think they may be deprived of the conversations they seem to crave. I wonder if I remind them of their wives or daughters, or if talking to a young woman helps make them feel young again. I then wonder if I am overanalyzing these conversations, if elderly men are just naturally more friendly than the rest of the population, or, being retired, just have more time to talk.
Whatever the reason, this particular conversation made me miss my dad. He is not old nor retired nor a widower, his hearing is fine and his hair isn't exactly frenetic, but he loves to talk to strangers, particularly women who (at least from my impression) remind him of me. I can just imagine that, as I was talking to this man, my dad was simultaneously sitting on the train in Boston on his way to work, striking up his own conversation with a young traveler. It's a curious thing, the way the world goes round.
Oh, and....Hi daddy!