My life has been particularly stressful lately, and as hard as I try I just can’t seem to be anywhere on time. Today I was running extremely late for an important appointment, despite thinking I had left with have plenty of time.
Wrong. Metro was a bastard and forty minutes later I found myself outside Richmond Station on the verge of an explosive mental breakdown, praying for a taxi.
Countless went by and I had just about thrown my phone at the cement after hearing the 13cabs hold tune for nearly ten minutes before one finally stopped.
I got in the passenger seat next to the driver -an Italian man with wrinkled eyes, a fantastic moustache and not much hair on his head, I’m guessing in his mid to late 60s- and asked him to take me to Brighton.
He told me that he was married in Brighton 31 years ago, and I asked him if he was still married. He laughed and said, “Yes, I married for love-but I still don’t know why she married me.”
He then asked me to open the glove box. Inside was a wallet, and inside that were pictures of the taxi drivers’ family. There were three wrinkled and faded school pictures of three blonde and beaming boys (one is getting engaged next week), and two pictures of his wife. One was over 30 years old, from before they were married, the other was a few years back. She looked nearly identical in both photos, besides the hair. In the first she had a stunning late 70s perm and in the second a more modern Hilary Clinton-esque style do.
He asked me to guess how old she was, I said early 40s (clearly forgetting that they’d been married for 31 years) and he laughed and told me she would turn 60 very soon.
I told him that she was beautiful and asked what her secret was.
He told me, good food, no stress and family. But mostly good food.
Then he told me to close my eyes and imagine that I was on a gondola in Venice, and he played me romantic Italian music while we drove the rest of the way to Brighton. He sang his favourite lyrics and translated them to me as, “I will always meet you here in May.”
The appointment that I was on my way to was a psych appointment, and by the time we got there I practically felt that didn’t need to go anymore.
At times in your lives you have fleeting experiences with strangers that have had a profound effect on your day and that will reach out to you at the right moment for years to come, possibly for the rest of your life. This was one of those times.
For a $26 cab ride I learned the secret to eternal, youthful beauty and took a gondola ride down a water-filled street in Venice.