I was atop the bus guiding on the last tour of the day and there was a middle-aged guy who raised his hand and asked, “Hey, are we gonna go by that changing-of-the-guards place?”
I couldn’t stifle my giggle and said, “You mean Buckingham Palace,”
and he said, “Yea! That!”
I loved that he wasn’t the least bit embarrassed that he didn’t know the name of the most famous palace in the world. Why should he? He needed to know because he, his wife and daughter were staying at a hotel near there so wanted to be sure they could get off there at tour’s end.
They were from Long Island (“Lawn Gyland,”is how he said it). He was very attentive to my commentary and asked a question or two which is always encouraging for a tour guide. Toward the end of the tour when it got rather chilly, the three of them went into the covered part of the upper deck. We were driving on the north side of the River Thames, on Victoria Embankment heading towards Big Ben. The lights of the London Eye shone red, the Country Hall blue and the sky dark. October in London.
Then the guy leaned forward and started playing with his wife’s hair – she was seated right in front of him. He was still looking at the view and just playing with her hair. She leaned into his hand. They continued doing that for a while. It was so touchingly beautiful. And I thought, Why isn’t anyone playing with my hair? Why don’t I have someone to do that?
I don’t quite know how it happened — or didn’t happen — but I don’t have a partner and haven’t in a very long time. It’s like I forgot. Children,too. Just forgot. And when I see a man playing with his wife’s hair, I remember and I get a pang. And my mind takes a photo of the moment and it stays with me for a bit.