Call me old-fashioned.
All the men in my life are gentlemen. My grandfather wore a sport coat to dinner every night. My dad opens the door of the car for me and then takes my left elbow as he walks nearest the street on a sidewalk. My father-in-law is truly the ultimate considerate host. My big brother emulated my dad's actions, and he's every bit the gentleman that my father is. My husband and son take their hats off inside, hold the door, offer me their arm, and always thank me for dinner. My son's friends, a bunch of 16 year-old athletes and academics, come through daily, ALWAYS stopping to check in with me, express gratitude, and take the time to tell me about their days, lives, girlfriends, school, and goals. They put their phones away at the table and calculate how many chocolate chip pancakes I have made over the years. And my daughter's boyfriend called me last night to see when he might be able to surprise her with a ticket home to see us, her family, to celebrate their two year anniversary. Gentlemen surround me.
You may wonder how this ties into a travel blog.
What do you remember when you return from a trip? Do you remember the gelato and the Roman forum in Italy? The Colossus of Rhodes in Greece? The service at a hotel or a terrific tour guide? You may remember the cool water on your skin after you have been in the blazing hot sun in Hvar. You may remember the lounge chair that cradled you so comfortably while you read a magazine or book. You may remember the helicopter ride, the surf lesson, the perfectly appointed apartment, the moment you reached the top of the tower in Siena or Delft with your 8 year-old, the gondola ride in Venice with your high school graduate, the Hermitage with your mother who just turned 65, the blue-footed booby and Darwin's Finch in the Galapagos with your fiancé, the churrasco in Brazil, hugging a koala, the orphanage in Perm, tasting a rosé, a beach, a moment, a textile, a child, a boutique, an awakening of a new realization, a connection to a culture. I remember those things, too. That's why we travel, right? But I also remember.... The gentlemen.
I see a 70 year-old woman struggling to raise a carry-on into the overhead bin. A young mom traveling to see her parents, with two kids in tow, who is on the verge of tears as she totes an exhausted baby in a car seat. A flight attendant who has dedicated her world to serving those who love to travel or those who must travel for work. They're struggling. And then out of the masses of travelers, there's a gentleman. He lifts the carry-on, and he smiles understandingly at the exhausted momma and says, "after you." He holds the door and greets his seat mate. He is kind to the flight attendant and makes her feel appreciated. They may not even think to thank him because they are so tired or it was so unexpected that it took them by surprise. Or perhaps they didn't even deserve his niceness. But he did it anyway, because he is a gentleman.
I am for equal rights for women as much as the next working woman. But somewhere the lines were crossed for some people and it became understandably confusing for the men. I can't speak for all of womankind, but I can speak for myself. I wish I could give credit for this quote: "A gentleman will open doors, pull out chairs, and carry things. Not because she’s helpless or unable, but because he wants to show her that she is valuable and worthy of respect." ~ Author Unknown
I love the gentlemen.
I will return from a trip remembering swimming with the sharks in Tahiti, confronting the Oracle at Delphi, being moved to tears by the overwhelming beauty of the views from the Seven Oceans Lodge, feeling honored that my friends would visit me in Samuer, the Christmas markets in Uzes, the lemons on the Amalfi Coast, Nikolai in Monterchi, the ferries, the tides at Mont St. Michel, the crepes outside of Chenonceau, the Grimsel Pass in Switzerland, Wolfgangsee, riding camels in Morocco, the speedy but efficient drivers in Germany, the art in The Netherlands, the Eagle's Nest, Normandy, ...
But when I travel I also remember, and love, the gentlemen. Perhaps that's just me. As much as my life is enhanced by travel, my favorite destination is always my home. Home to my husband, my Wolfie, my daddy, my brother; all the men who respect me as an individual but hold the door for me because they're kind. And because they are true gentlemen.