It was a Snickers, I think. When I got on the train heading from Paris to Barcelona, the first thing I saw was a curly-haired young man lying in the aisle, his arm stretched beneath the seat as he tried to retrieve a partially unwrapped candy bar. When he rose, Snickers (or maybe Milky Way) in hand, he sat down across from me and asked if I wanted a bite. I said, “Okay.” And that’s how I met Schlomo.
The summer after graduating college, my friend Angelly and I went to Europe. Our first stop was Dublin, then London, Amsterdam, Paris, and finally Barcelona. Angelly was a more trusting traveler than I was. She promised to stay in touch with a woman she met on a double-decker bus and had a romantic entanglement with an Australian during our stay at a Dublin hostel. I, however, held my bag close to my body, didn’t believe anyone’s directions, no matter how lost I was, and slept on the top bunk of our Irish accommodations while Angelly learned about Australia.
In Paris, however, Angelly felt that the locals were less than welcoming, and she left a day early for Barcelona. I was alone in Paris for a night (during which I stayed in the hotel room) and for the overnight train ride to Spain the next day.
Schlomo was the only person I met on our European adventure, and I doubt I would have if Angelly had been by my side. Without my gregarious companion, I was bolder and less suspicious of others. My friendship with him was brief—long enough that we met up in Barcelona to walk through stone-housed shops, browsing art supplies and handmade leather sandals, but short enough that we didn’t keep in touch after that. Maybe it was his name (Angelly joked and called him “Slo-mo”); maybe it was his candy bar. Either way, I still remember Schlomo today.
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