There he was, Mr. Right.
Well, Mr. Right-Time, at least. The up-scale café in downtown Bergamo, Italy, was packed with people. I was a weary, traveling New Yorker, surrounded by Italians; I needed caffeine. I made a bold move and squeezed my way up to the circular bar counter, catching the eye of the young male waiter. I was surrounded by fellow customers on all sides, but I held his gaze and leaned across the counter. “Cappuccino?” I asked with a smile, which he returned, with interest. “Cappuccino,” he replied, clearly understanding it was one of the few Italian words I knew well. As he made it for me, I looked around the circular bar to the lounge area where real Italians were sipping espresso and conversing at a mile a minute. I felt a soft tap on my arm. He was speaking to me again, and amidst the chatter I could easily hear my cappuccino-boy, distinct from all the other voices. He was saying something in Italian, of course, and though I couldn’t understand it, I knew what his kind smile meant. I picked up my fresh-brewed cappuccino and turned from the counter, then cast an all-too-cliché over-the-shoulder smile back at him. He grinned and looked down and then back up shyly, catching my eye for the second time, and holding it. As I left the café, I knew I wouldn’t see him again, but I also understood that moments like this are the essence traveling: brief and fleeting, but oh so invigorating.