I met a woman tonight. I see her everyday sitting on the green benches with all the drunk men. Dirty, confused, rude...drunk. This time she was sitting alone and smoking. Was she waiting for me to come?
I parked my car, knowing it was time. When I walked close, she got up. Unsteady, and I helped her like I help Grandma. Slow and dizzying. We got into the car. I thought she wanted a ride. She wanted to sit together and talk. And we did--up and down and all over and back. In Slovene. In English. Liliana and Anna, sometimes in formal language, sometimes informal. Back and forth. I teared up. I laughed. She got quiet. She got loud. Were we talking about actuality or imagination? What is most real?
When I finally did drop her off, she stopped. Focused her eyes on mine, touched my face with her hand and held it there.
"Welcome to Slovenia." I smiled and thanked her. But sincerity pushed her on. "No, really."
"Welcome to Slovenia."
It was Jesus tonight. Jesus that I cried and laughed while she talked, that I could see her eyes. Jesus that she welcomed me here.