A Love Story

Right before Covid hit, a friend went to the Metropolitan Opera film of “Porgy and Bess” at a local movie theatre, in a small village in France. She had been planning to attend with another friend, but that friend had made an unexpected trip to Paris, so she went alone. As customary, my friend prepared a light picnic dinner for herself, carried it to the cinema in her panier (basket), and found her seat. A few moments after she had settled in, a man sat down next to her. “Hello,” they said to each other, and then began talking—about “Porgy and Bess,” the weather (spring would soon arrive), the recent Pacques (Easter) holiday. At some point, just before the opera began, my friend said to the gentleman, “I’m a widow”; and he responded, “I’m a widower.”

At Intermission, my friend picked up her panier of food, and went into the lobby to eat her meal. As she sat by herself, watching other members of the audience, most of whom had brought food with them, the gentleman who had sat next to her approached. They fell easily into conversation, telling each other about themselves. She is American by birth, married a Frenchman, and has been living in France for over 50 years. He is German, and has been living in France full time since he retired five years ago. She has four children, none of whom lives nearby. He talked about his three daughters, none of whom lives nearby either.

Very quickly, it seemed, the Intermission ended, and the two of them returned to their seats. Neither had said anything about the future, so my friend thought nothing would come of this sweet encounter. Which was a shame; she felt lonely and had been hoping to meet someone. For the next hour they sat side by side, but separately, enjoying a love story that has been around for almost 100 years.

When the opera ended, they both applauded. Then he turned to her. “May I have your phone number?” he asked.

“Certainly,” she smiled, her heart fluttering. Then he walked her back to her car, which was parked some blocks away.

The next morning he phoned to tell her he was soon going off to China to visit one of his daughters, but would like to take her to lunch before he left. “Certainly,” she replied.

Shortly after he returned from China, Covid struck. The two decided to quarantine together. And they have been together ever since.

They told this sweet story at a lunch at our house, one small part of our afternoon together. But the story remains with me, and each time I think of it, it infuses me with joy. A small, simple story of two kind people who found each other during a performance of “Porgy and Bess,” reminding me that no matter what the circumstances, happiness is possible.

French Window Dressing

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