When I exited the apartment I rented in Florence, I sat with the host, a sweet woman in her early fifties with a penchant for art and espresso, as you would expect from her, given where she was placed in space and time. “Take a coffee before you go, come on, come on, sit,” she said. I could not say no to a coffee, partly owing to who I am but also, given where I was placed in space and time. So, I obliged, and then we talked about my stay so far and if the city was everything I had hoped for. It was more than that, as I told her, and then, when I began to leave, I picked up my bags and manoeuvred them through the door as I have countless times before. Living alone teaches you how to handle hands filled to the brim with bags and still somehow be able to open the door and bring things in. It is a skill that is not celebrated, but given the number of people I have seen stumble and fail at this little task, it occurs to me that it may not be as common, which leads me to believe that despite what television shows and movies have had us believe, people living alone may still not be as common. It is also an easy trick to see if someone lives on their own. Watch how they open the door when their hands are full. More often than not, the smoother and effortless their transition into taking things in or out, the more years they have spent by themselves.
As soon as I stepped out the door, I thanked her one final time. She thanked me for staying and said, “It is easy to be nice to you.” It stuck with me like a drop of honey. I began thinking about it in the elevator, and honestly, I have not stopped since. I must be doing something right if that is the case, I know, but what is it, and how do I do more of it? I will never know. We do not know our parts like other people know them. We live in our entirety; this is not the case for others. A friend once spotted a spot on the shelf I was blind to while cleaning daily. Then, he wiped it off as we continued to talk. Others can tell things about ourselves that we would never spot in eternity. I will never know why she said what she said, but I know now that when you say something nice to someone, they remember it forever.