We sat in an Irish Pub, O’Neills, in the west end of London. It is my last night in England. I can see Bushmills Irish Whiskey etched into the glass of the large window. The letters are backwards.
Two singers–one on an acoustic and the other on an electric guitar. They are playing a Beatles tune when we enter. Then they switch to a Dylan song as we sit. The singer says the next one was penned by Robert Zimmerman. They play I Want You.
Through the window and across the street is the massive and glorious St. Pancras Station.
It is my last night in England–until the next time. But, then there will be another last night…and another.
I recall the hills I walked, the rocks where I rested and the hedges where I conquered my fear. I think of my British friends, people I’ve known for thirty years. People who have aged and matured and moved homes and raised children. I am thankful for the friendship these people have shown me. I think of Tim, Jo and their family in North Dorset. I think of Marion and Bill in Purbeck. Bill, the old quarryman who cut Purbeck marble since his youth. I think of Alex and Janice in Hampshire.
They are the best of mates…all of them.
Tomorrow, I will climb the steps of the Basillique du Sacre-Coeur in the Montmartre section of Paris. I will climb to the last step and turn around to look at the magnificent City of Light.
There, I will celebrate my 67th birthday.
I will ache when I climb those steps. The ache that comes with age, old bones and unused muscles.
But, I’ll be happy…happy just to be alive.
Then I will descend the steps, one by one.
I will reach the bottom step a year older, but a thousand years wiser.
Non, Je ne Regrette Rien.