Brent was worldly to some, especially those less worldly to him. Europe was a friend at times and he’d traveled through many of the States with more than a keen eye. But he didn’t take advantage of this in any special sense, nor did he elaborate his worldliness to benefit his status. He existed merely as worldly as he was.
At times though, people sensed that he wasn’t sure quite how worldly he needed to be. He was perplexed when faced with train ticket machines in unfamiliar languages. At times, he was even hesitant to ask for help, more out a fear of shame than a loss of face. He knew that there were certain eclectic tempos one should appreciate in nightclubs and lounges, but he didn’t know why. He wanted to achieve the casual mindset that beset the greatest of sophistications.
The only store open when he reached the airport was a small convenience store. He bought some water and a newspaper and sat at the open seating outside the shop.
Her suit was sharp and demanding, and the frames of her glasses were a strong grey. The hair draping over her eyes as revealed an eager concentration. She sat, sipping a coffee, reading a book.
“Sprechen Sie Englisch?”
“Yes, a bit.”
“Do you mind if I sit?”
“No, no, I am just reading.”
“Are you on business?”
“I just finished. I’m going home to Berlin.”
“Oh, I love Berlin; there’s always something to do.”
“Ah, you’ve been?”
“Well, just once. But I had an amazing time. I was on business and some friends at I spent a few nights out. The music, the drinks, everything about the city felt like it was alive, there was just so much energy. It’s so difficult to find places like that in the States, except for the bigger cities.”
“You travel a lot?”
“I travel a bit myself. I go round Europe, and sit in meetings. I’m a, ah, translator, yes.”
“Wow. What kinds of meetings do you translate?”
“Ah, mostly business meetings I know nothing about; I stay for a few weeks at a time for a business, while they finish with business partners, and then I move on. You know, spend a few nights out with friends with music, drinks, feel like I’m alive…”
They shared a moment of laughter, and sipped silently.
“That must be great to see so much of Europe. I always want to travel more, see more of the world. It just seems like there’s so much to learn and know, so many people to meet.”
“Ah yes, I know. I spend a lot of time, meeting people, friends, going out—sometimes it is a lot of work.”
“Exactly. I’m not sure I know how to do it. Sometimes I think i do, and then I’ll realize how little I know and how little I’ve seen.”
He shifted his drink and she rested her book on the table.
“You know, my grandmother—she is this old German woman—she told me something when I left for university that I sometimes remember. She said that, what is important now may change.
You know, sometimes I feel like being—social, yes, being extra social, is not always worth the time. Sometimes I want to have just some good friends instead of just knowing many people. Do you…”
She could see his face change, his gaze drifting off.
“I…I think I do. I think you mean that one conversation like this is worth more than twenty at a bar.”
She looked down at her coffee, and he watched her fingers gently turn the cup. Beneath the drooping bangs, he could see the corner of her smile.
“Do you want to go for a walk? I mean, not to anywhere specific, just a walk around?”
“I would like that.”