Old Man on the Roof


I met this old, sun-wrinkled man on Paros, bumming his way through youth hostels. Bright white mustache, dark brown tan, and always in a speedo. I met him once, he met me seven times.

“I’m sorry”, he’d say, “I don’t remember faces or names”.

Eventually he recognized my face but he often called me Daniel. He drank raki mixed with honey; he said it made his memory better. To his credit, he always called me Dylan when he drank. He said he never left Vancouver until he was 67. That’s when the doctor diagnosed Alzheimer’s and he started traveling the world.

“If I’m going to forget the world, I should know what I’m losing”.

He had a small tattoo in Arabic. I asked him what it meant, he didn’t know. An Israeli tourist told us it read “Amani”. He couldn’t remember her. When he drank, he sang “House of the Rising Sun”. I think it was his favorite song. He told me I should open a brothel.

“You have the exact temperament for it!”

I don’t want to read too much into that. One night we were alone on the rooftop drinking his raki. He said, “I wonder where I’ll end up. I wonder if I’ll remember you Daniel”.

We stayed at the same hotel for forty days. At the end, he said it was a good week but it was time to move on. He remembered a woman he left behind on Malta. Maybe he could find her. This was three years ago. I often wonder where he is, and I worry that I can’t remember his name.


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