Rushing through the streets of Zagreb in late October on an empty stomach, wearing ill-fitting shoes, dragging a suitcase, and desperately trying to keep up with a 6’2” travel buddy isn’t too fun. We got on the wrong tram, or we missed our stop… I’m not entirely sure. But we found ourselves with only 20 minutes to catch a train that was leaving in 25 minutes. I’m a fast walker, especially when I’m cold. But I’m only 5’3”, so my idea of “fast walking” doesn’t exactly match up to someone who’s a head-plus taller than me. So there was I, hobbling along in shoes that fell off my feet with every other step, both of us rushing past cars, pedestrians, graffiti covered walls, shops with food I lusted after, rushing to go home to Prague.
Finally making it to the train station, we checked the screen to see what track we needed to find. With minutes to spare, we rushed past the last available sandwich shop, and assumed there would be a dining car on the train. I’ll never forget the feeling of dread that came over me, slowly, as I walked the length of the train – there was no dining car. We had no dinner the previous evening, and nothing but coffee that morning, and we were about to embark on a 16 hour journey.
Finding a cabin to sit in, we frantically searched our bags. We had been so prepared this whole trip! We always had several large bottles of water, along with ham, cheese, and bread to make sandwiches, and tomatoes to snack on. We considered ourselves very savvy travelers. How the hell did we manage to board the train without any rations whatsoever????
I sat back in my seat, defeated, hungry, and thirsty. I thought to myself, “We have a 9 hour train ride to Vienna ahead of us, followed by a 5 ½ hour train ride back to Prague. We can’t even drink the water from the faucets in the lavatories. Maybe something will be open in the Vienna station, we will have over an hour there…”
As I looked out the window, my travel buddy continued to rummage around in his bag. He looked at me sympathetically and said, “I know you’re really thirsty sweetie, I’m sorry. I’m thirsty too. This sucks.” Then he grunted a little, dug deeper in his bag, and miraculously pulled out a pomegranate, and 3 Kit Kat bars. “I can’t believe I forgot about these!” he said. Feeling decidedly unexcited about our waterless journey ahead, I exclaimed, “Oh my god! Yes! We can get water from the pomegranate, and keep our blood sugar up with the chocolate! But…do you have a knife? How are we going to, um, actually eat the pomegranate?”
When someone feels happy just by seeing you happy, it’s love. He got out some napkins, leaned over, and bit into the bitter, sour rind of the pomegranate. He tore it in half, handed me a half and a napkin, and we proceeded to suck on and chew the seeds, giggling, laughing, and making faces at how tart it was. Funny that something so tart, which makes you thirsty, would hydrate you as well. But that’s all we had, and we enjoyed every minute of it. He handed me a Kit Kat bar, kept one for himself, and split the third one in half. “We can share this one,” he said, and smiled.
And that’s how love looked on a train, going from Zagreb to Prague. Love was being hungry, thirsty, tired, stressed, and completely happy munching on a bitter pomegranate, with my favorite person in the world.