I was sitting in the lobby of the beautifully hip City Hostel Seattle with a couple of Irish chicks, drinking beer from a can and playing chess, when she came back into my life. In a style all her own, she arrived at the most unexpected of moments. One instant I was considering the most lethal placement of my wicked queenside Knight, and the next I was staring up her devious blues complimented by a malicious implied smile. This was not a smile for the weak or the faint of heart.
No, this was a smile of adventure and wonder and possibility. This was the smile that inspires foolishly romantic young men across this beautiful country with the hopes and the dreams that this smile seems to suggest. This is the smile that keeps young men warm at night and hard-working during the day. This smile is the reward for their struggle. This smile is the bane of my existence.
How could it be that those devil blues and implied smile had tracked me down in Seattle this fateful night? This was a random trip taken on a whim, how could she have possibly found me? And what did she want? The door opened and the her group exploded into the lobby, shattering our comfortable existence with the foreign clatter and clamor and clanging of German spoken in a way unique to beautiful German girls. German? The fleeting malicious smile that had inspired me years ago was not German. Could it be? A different girl? A foreign twin?
Chess all but forgotten as I strained to listen to her negotiate the front desk with the broken English of a European student abroad on holiday, and it hit home…This is a different girl! This is not heartbreak and venom and gnashing of teeth. This is not lonely nights waiting for the phone to ring. This is not the entirety of the whiskey bottle, trying to kill the pain. This is hope anew in the form of the same unique smile. This is a second chance!
Her English was not good, though slightly better than her friends’. I was smitten. And then more Germans arrived. And then more. Suddenly we were outnumbered, and the lobby was alive with a harsh foreign tongue. The Irish girls snickered, but I was captivated. She looked at me, but then quickly looked away. I took a long pull off my beer and went back to the chess game, trying to keep track of her out of the corner of my eye.
She was beautiful, and I needed to act, so I stumbled over. Hey, how are ya? How was your trip? Where are you from? What do you do? How do you do? Marry me? She just looked at me and smiled. Beautiful smile. She turned to her friend and with a quick smattering of the mother tongue, they both giggled up at me. Clearly, there was a communication gap. I frowned, not sure what to say. You want to play chess? You want a beer? What about some coffee? Runaway with me to Peru?
They giggled again. And I realized that I might have a bit of a problem. That night I went out and got drunk with Australians and an Irish couple from Vancouver, and it was fantastic. But sadly, German-free. I woke up the next morning with a hangover and smile, and thought about that German girl, and how absolutely complete my failure had been in getting to know her, much less seeing her naked. I thought of her smile, which had reminded me of the cutest smile in the world, and I wondered what the original version was up to. I smiled to myself, because we’re all young and fun and adventurous, and because life reminds us of this in the most interesting ways.
On my way out the door, and back to that south bound train that would take me home; on a folded sheet of torn notebook paper, I handed her this…
“You have a beautiful way about you, enjoy your trip. — Sean”
She looked up at me and giggled some more. Fantastic.