I was already sick by the time we left the snow-capped Alps of Ludwig's realm. The winter had come on rather quickly, even though it was only early October, and an icy air blew through Munich like a giant's terrible breath. Temperamental snows dusted the city like flour, although they dissipated before turning to ice. It was the brute, unabashed cold that hit me like a stone. I found myself with the sniffles, then a sinus infection, and then rivers of mucus that clogged my throat. Yes, I was deteriorating in the midst of Bavaria.
There is something about the state of being ill that causes one to feel lonesome, rather acutely. I scampered back from the train to my hostel and while it wasn't literally far, I might as well been dragging through the mud, feeling awfully sorry for myself. I even forgot about Simon, our mutual promise to spend Germany together before heading back to opposite ends of the world. Luckily, Simon hadn't forgotten about me. He followed me back to my room and as he watched me shuddering uncontrollably, he ran out again. So I finally got rid of him after all.
At length, he returned with a cup of hot tea and lemon, and asked how I was doing. I could only raise my eyelids pitifully. He proceeded to give me a massage, and then some small plastic packets that generate heat after we rubbed them for a few minutes. (Ingenious contraptions, those Taiwanese). Then he tucked me in and related that he felt worried and uneasy leaving like this, but his flight back to Asia was already booked. He did seem genuinely concerned, and those long-lashed, liquid eyes blinked at me guiltily.
I was profoundly touched. He had no obligation to me; I was a fellow traveler, transient and forgettable. He would never see me again. Yet, there was something transcendent in the human to human interaction, a sharing of thoughts, experiencing a wondrous event in the same time, that inevitably binds us. That sense of connection, that we affect each other, that we are real and we lived in that moment together is powerful. Even though we have become no more than a memory to one another, it is impossible not to care and not to feel that my life is somehow better because it was touched by kindness.
So Simon departed and I was left to my coughing fits. But I smiled every time my toes touched on the warmers that he gave me, which thawed out my frozen feet and kindled something in more guarded areas of the heart.