Somewhere near Le Mans in 2015 I think.
At a petrol station there is a young man, French, who is hitch-hiking.
Tall, thin and pale where he isn’t sunburnt. Dark brown hair cut short with clippers, bushy eyebrows, black eyes like a snowman would have. Thin stubble everywhere. He reminded me of Where’s Wally somehow, I don’t know why exactly. He was very animated.
I walked up to him and we shook hands in greeting. We laughed when we realised that we couldn’t communicate verbally. He gestured at a baguette in the side pocket of his backpack and pointed to me. I smiled and refused as I wasn’t hungry. I pointed at the cardboard strapped onto my backpack and pulled out a marker. He nodded. I dropped my backpack to the floor and knelt down to pull out a piece of cardboard for him, then handed over the pen and waited while he wrote his sign. This accomplished I stood up and shouldered my pack again.
We hugged in parting and said ‘bon voyage.’
Some minutes later I am waiting by the motorway on ramp as the sun goes down.
These are the most sacred moments of my short existence.
The evening pours out of the world like honey leaving a main artery.
I am filled with a mix of joy and curiosity about where I will sleep. There is no knowing.
A car beeps as it passes me. I see this young man waving furiously from the back.
Nothing can solve existential pain but there’s something about briefly having a brother.