A Bench in Westerpark

Amsterdam_MartaVargas-8.jpg

To my good friend R.

It was a sunny day of July and we were sitting on a bench in Westerpark talking about life and love. We had just met the day before, but it felt like we had known each other for years. 

The morning before, I left home early, and walking behind a lively young couple who was kissing, taking selfies and giggling around, I arrived to the Rijksmuseum, where I spent several hours walking from room to room, enjoying the freedom of choice during the first morning by myself in Amsterdam.
I was on a hallway when I first saw him. He crossed the door with his friends, our eyes met for a brief moment, but I continued my way into the gallery. He did the same, and when at some point we bumped into each I just... smiled at him. And he smiled back at me, as we continued our way into the big room. I don't know were the rest of the people and his friends went, but suddenly it was just the two of us in the gallery, pretending we didn't know the other one was there. The wooden floor was cracking underneath our feet as we were moving quietly, observing the drawings on the walls.

For a moment I thought everything was in my head, he hadn't even noticed I was there and, after all, we had just shared a smile. I left the room towards the second floor to see the exhibition of the Dutch Golden Age painters. 

 

Like a tourist attraction, cameras, hats and selfie-sticks filled up the room. All the romanticism of classic art was mercilessly killed with that atmosphere and, when I got to the last room to see the big Rembrandt, I suddenly found his smile again in the middle of the crowd.I laughed. He laughed. I nervously walked close to him. "Hi" he said, "Hey" I replied with a timid smile, and I kept on walking, leaving the room and him behind.

I turned around: he was gone. Why didn't I say something instead of walking away? I looked for him in the whole floor, he was not there. I went down to the place were we first saw each other, no luck. I went to the shop, to the entrance, to the big room again. He wasn't at any of those places. He was gone, and I would always wonder what would had happened next.

I gave up and I decided to leave. That had been the story I'd tell to my friends until the details faded, and he was just a guy whose name I didn't even know. But, when I was crossing the exit door, I suddenly saw him running out of the musem restaurant. "Hi!", he said, and I turned around. "Oh, hi! I was looking for you." I smiled. "Yeah, I was looking for you too. My name is R, and you are...", "Marta."

We shared numbers. We met the day after, and the next. We talked and shared comfortable silences for hours, and its been like that ever since. Even now, every time we speak I feel like I travel to a bench in Westerpark, where I look at him, and I realize how unbelievably fragile and mighty this kind of coincidences are.