The owner of the chambres d’hôte had told the truth when Detlef had called to ask if she had any rooms available for two pilgrims for the night. She did. The issue was that she only had one room left, not two.
Having waited forever for her to arrive, on only the second night after we had met walking the Chemin, we were both tired and ready to call it a night. There was no way we were going to go back out to find another choice of lodging during the height of a summer festival in France.
That was how I ended up sharing a hotel room with a complete stranger, a recently divorced man, an unbelievably sweet and kind man, who was walking the Chemin from Geneva to Le Puy-de-Velay to heal from the blow that his wife had dealt him.
Neither of us had expected or planned for this to happen. But since we had already shared a room at the communal gite d’etape the night before, it wasn’t as big a deal to either of us. And we even saved money because of it.
So I took the double bed in the loft space and left him the double bed downstairs. And he told me to take my shower first.
Nothing weird about any of that, right? It happens to everyone. Or at least it does to me.
It probably was a little wrong of me to have stayed silent about my own impending divorce. But I was worried that he would also see the eerie similarity between our two situations.
He joked that the reasons that his wife had used were age-old and textbook, a classic divorce explanation. Lonely wife never saw her workaholic German husband, so now he only saw his kids on weekends. He was clearly vulnerable and hurt from the ordeal.
So when we were exchanging stories, I had sympathized with him, but I never let on about any marital distress on my part. I just didn’t want to bring it up.
Now of course, I had no ring on my left hand. But I was wearing one on my right and in Europe, often wedding bands are on the right.
And since he had no way of knowing that I was anything other than what I led him to believe, a happily married woman walking the Chemin because she was trying to recover from the grief of losing her best friend to cancer, he was a perfect gentleman.
So believe it or not, nothing happened between us. Not a single thing. Even our goodbye was no more than a simple hug. A heartfelt hug, he really was a great guy, but that was the full extent of our physical contact.
That was how I had made sure it would be. I never gave him any reason to believe I wanted anything from him, besides company. He never offered anything more.
I wondered. I considered telling him the truth. I felt deceptive and dishonest. I worried he would suddenly dislike me, lump me in with his wife. Or worse, feel that I was now available for true bed-sharing.
And I definitely wasn’t ready for sex with a stranger.
But this was the Chemin de St Jacques, which had a way of giving me what I needed at the most opportune times. In hindsight, I shouldn’t be surprised that it all worked out for the best.