‘I don’t really need a woman in my life’, the traveller told me at the bar, looking at me with clear, blue-grey eyes. ‘I have done all that’. He had entered our Amsterdam milonga in the company of a good-looking blonde woman in her forties, wearing a red dress. ‘‘I am a free man’, he continued, showing a set of immaculately white teeth in his tanned face. He looked fifty-something and wore bleached jeans under a colourful silk shirt. ‘I am sixty-eight’, he said, ’and I have seen it all’. ‘Really,’ I said, putting the ordered drinks in front of him. Later, I saw them dancing, milonguero style, taking a break every now and then for talks. He certainly seemed to have seen and done that before.
‘I can work from anywhere’, the traveller told me, at the bar for another round of drinks. ‘Going to Ibiza now. I have been doing this for ten years. I have a small base in Milan, but otherwise I am on the move, going where the wind takes me’, he said, looking in the direction of the blonde woman in red. ‘No, it doesn’t get lonely. Not lonelier than other people, in relationships or in big houses. Most people are just too scared to burn their bridges and really be free.’ He asked for a glass of water and a glass of wine. The wine was for her.
From our conversation I learned that he sold artwork, which he produced himself, mostly lodging in Southern Europe, dancing everywhere. The woman in red seemed to be very happy with him. “I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life’, he said. I was thinking of my own life, the big house and garden yanking my chain continuously, and trying not to think about the high tuition fees for our son, the daily work stress and the traffic jams. ‘The only thing it requires is a decision and sticking to it’, he said, winking at me knowingly, as if he just told me the exact location of the cookie jar. They left early, his arm around her.
Driving home, I was ready to resign my job and sell the house the next day. Then, I thought: hang on, there are family members to take care of, who will take over? What about the cats? They hate it when we’re gone, where will they be? And what if our son wants to come home? What is it you do all day in Ibiza, after a couple of weeks? I also considered, that I didn’t really know this guy. He could be out on probation, a hit man for the mafia or on the run for tax evasion. The woman in red might be in on it, harboring a fugitive, and happy he wasn’t going anywhere. I guess I’ll be staying put for a while. But I will be selling the holiday house someday. Someday really soon. Been talking about it for years.