As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
We were walking back to our hotel from a wonderful Florentine restaurant following an enlivening and lengthy happy hour near the famed Domo. In other words, we were buzzed, Carol had to pee, and then soon, we were lost.
I’ve written before about the hidden discoveries one can make while trying to find one’s way around Europe. And the key word there is “one,” as I’ll explain shortly.
Getting lost for me is almost never intentional, since it’s generally the result of not paying attention. The only time it is intentional, is when we’re on a public bus that we have no idea where it’s going. In these cases, it hardly matters that you wind up somewhere you’d never find your way back from if you were walking. But on a bus, you simply cross over to the other side of the street and take the same number back to where you started. Easy peasy.
There’s always been something about not knowing where I was going that appeals to me. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my waking life daydreaming it away, I just never feel a compunction to be in any particular place at a particular time.
The idea of getting lost while traveling has always been part of the romance of the road, though. It goes all the way back to my vagabonding days of the early 70s. I traipsed the streets of Paris on foot never knowing where I was going from sunup to well past midnight, without benefit of a map or any familiarity with the city. There’s always been something about not knowing where I was going that appeals to me. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my waking life daydreaming it away, I just never feel a compunction to be in any particular place at a particular time. I guess some might call it freedom. I suppose, though, most would call it irresponsible, particularly when you’re with a traveling companion, especially one who has to pee. Traveling companions, I have learned, have a way of helping you organize a day by asking the tough questions like, “Where are we going today?” and “Do you even know where that is?”
On this Florentine evening, anyway, we were following my innate sense of direction, which is akin to celestial navigation on a cloudy night. “We just keep walking in the opposite direction of the river,” I explained to Carol, whose call of nature was growing more insistent.
About fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the river. “Can you hold it a bit longer?” I asked plaintively.
Wherever we were, we were now fifteen minutes farther from the hotel than when we started out, since we’d gone in the exact opposite direction of the hotel. But this is when the magic happened. After turning a corner, we came upon a beautifully lit square occupied by a lovely solo violinist. Carol and I were immediately transfixed by the music and the atmosphere of the square. We lingered for what must have been ten minutes or more. We held each other, and Carol held it in. Had we not been lost, we’d have never experienced this wonderful capper on our evening.
Carol didn’t make it all the way back to the hotel, but still..