“what does it mean?” he gestured to the white letter, bright on their blue, “founders?”

side by side, we were sitting for on a bench that in the States never would have held more than two. The idea of space, it’s different here. My body had fallen into the wood, bones heavy after a day of walking from flea market to food market to wine tasting to the train to Belem to here, this moment. Waiting.

My voice struggled to find air as I explained, tired and shocked as it was. “It’s a person who started something, like an organization. If I start a program, I’m the founder.”

The conversation continued: explanations of a word, names exchanged, mine for his-Paolo, our homes determined, the weather of Wisconsin discussed, his coat offered, Spain thrown on the table. It all led to religion somehow, as history seems to and then the train came.

So we got on but the conversation didn’t stop, despite the seats between us. We discussed art then, cork, when I would leave, where I would go. Then the train stopped, the end of the line. So I got off and watched his tilted gate carry his blue coat away.

And all I could think of was that moment at the end of last year on the bus to the airport and how I said I wanted to learn to trust strangers, to trust the world, to trust myself, how so much has changed, how I’ve learned to give in exchange for bits and pieces of others’ stories, how interwoven we are, how so many things happen because of one little word.


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