Like Honey Mead
The language looks harsh, all sticky clusters of consonants, but when I figure out which letters make which sounds, the words slide out as smooth as honey mead. I know the necessities for polite interactions: good morning, please, thank you, names for places and foods, some numbers. I can greet the hotel staff, order in restaurants, and figure out the train schedule.
I have had some of the worst and best experiences of my life here. Last week I visited World War II museums and historical sites, and I saw unspeakable horrors. Those places will haunt me forever.
But this week, I got to see you. You came across the continent to see me and it’s our last night before we go back to our home countries, ten time zones apart. How fortunate we are to meet in the middle like this.
We’re eating dinner under the stars, and the city around us feels like a movie set. It was destroyed during the war and rebuilt after, and even though there are still traces of bullet holes over the entrance to the sandwich shop, the buildings are so colorful and quaint that they look like they’ve come from a cartoon.
But tonight, it’s perfect. Tonight is a balmy July night, and if this part of the city feels like a movie set then I feel like a movie star. We dressed up for the occasion. There are red lipstick stains on my wine glass and your cheek. I order duck, you order salmon, and we have apple charlotte and delicate cappuccinos for dessert. “A good meal always ends with a cappuccino,” I say, and you smile.
My stomach is full of hearty food and my heart is full of overwhelming happiness, and I’m trying to memorize how you look against the background of twinkling lights because I know this image will sustain me when I miss you.
You leave tomorrow, and it will be another month before I see you. We were lucky to have this time together, at least. I’m learning how to say “I love you” in this unfamiliar language, this language like honey mead.