The river always listened; in the steady rippling of the water there was a vast silence in which I could let my mind wander until there was peace. It was getting dark earlier, winter was approaching, but it was a nice gentle evening.
It was a weeknight, about nine o'clock, and though there was still traffic everywhere, along the river it was quiet. I decided to walk towards the city center, then cross a bridge somewhere and return via the park area along the water.
Everywhere and always I take pictures and so also now: on the bridge I took my phone out of my backpack, strapped my bag back on and took some pictures of the view. It was full moon. A man past by, also with a backpack, and he also took out his phone to photograph the view. We smiled at each other, said hello, in English. He asked where I was from, thinking I was a tourist. Funny, because I thought he was a tourist. We quickly switched back to Dutch. We walked together, told some things. He was a psychiatric nurse, but was on sick leave because of an incident at work in which a nerve in his right hand was damaged.
[a digital, adapted, version of GT 325]
As soon as we walked throught the park part, we slowed down a bit, the conversation was a little awkward but also nice. Just someone to talk to, no strings attached, simple. I looked up at the moon, and lost my balance. Apologizingly, I kind of explained about my medical condition, but he quickly brushed it off, making me think he didn't really want to hear my story.
I left it that way. We told each other where we lived, and for a moment, because he was very specific about which building, I got the idea that he wanted me to go with him. He didn't ask, he probably thought it was a bit uncomfortable, maybe even a bit inappropriate question. At the point where our paths had to part, we said goodbye, and I held out my hand as usual, as was still possible pre-corona time, he also said at the same time that his hand was cold, because of the nervous condition, and so my warm hand enfolded his cold fist. It was a bit strange maybe, and at the same time not at all.
When I turned around and walked away towards my side of the water, and had to watch out when crossing the road, so i had to look back, I saw him still standing there. He was watching me. And I pretended not to notice, and continued my way home. For a moment I thought he might come after me, and I didn't think I wanted to. But he didn't follow me, and I went home, a little rosy from the walk and the seemingly casual conversation.