Please Stay

After 27 years of being told the ultimate lie – ‘I love you’ – please forgive me if I no longer hold those three words in high regard.

Of course I love my children and I tell them I love you as often as I can, but that’s a sacred bond between parent and child, where the love is pure.

As for hearing it from someone I don’t share DNA with? Not so much. Will I ever trust those words from a man again? I won’t know until it happens.

Besides, there are far better ways to tell someone they are important to you. The one that sits on top of my list is ‘please stay.’

Please stay trumps I love you in so many ways.

When you sincerely ask someone to please stay, you are making a choice, not tossing meaningless words out of your mouth.

Please stay implies that when you are here with me, my life is more enjoyable. You matter to me. I enjoy you. I enjoy being with you. You are wanted and I want to be with you. 

“Must you go already? Please stay”, to someone who has come to visit you is the best approval rating for their visit you could ever offer them. It tells them you enjoyed their company and you don’t want their visit to end.

“Please stay, you haven’t told me about your ______ yet”, is the subtle praise of your presence and that you are interesting.

Please stay and work this out means right this moment, you are the most important person in my life. We are the most important thing to me at this particular time and space.

Please stay also requests that you share one of your most precious possessions – your time. It’s a gift that is instantly given and received, no wrapping required.

Also, it won’t take you long after telling the wrong people to please stay, out of politeness or obligation, before you learn to use it judiciously. After a few miserable long-lasting encounters you won’t be throwing those words around again anytime soon. Especially on social media, lest you have your best friend’s Grade Two neighbour’s grandmother’s sister-in-law sleeping on your sofa. For six months.

A sincere please stay is about the kindest thing you can say to one another.

When I left on my latest journey, I got lots of ‘I love you’ and ‘going to miss you’ but no one asked me to please stay.

I have a friend who has terminal cancer. There will come a time I can’t ask her to please stay anymore. That’s where the please stay becomes selfish; I’d only be asking her stay to make my life easier, not hers.

When she can no longer stay, all I will have are the memories of her, and at which time I will ask those memories to please stay.

Please stay, forever and a day.

I will know the moment that I have found The One, when after spending many hours together and it’s time for me to leave, he asks, “Do you really have to go? Please stay – shall I order us one more glass of wine?”

I hope I don’t cry.

Two Things That Terrify Europeans


Europeans are terrified of being cold.

I landed in Madrid on a nice, hot, sunny +29C day, jeans, sweater and NorthFace down jacket firmly wrapped around my hips. What was I thinking? Europeans, and especially Spaniards are terrified of being cold.

And I suddenly remembered, in October, all air conditioners are shut down en masse across Europe.There was no way in hell the airport would be air conditioned simply because it was October. And it wasn’t. It was sweltering.

Certainly my hotel room, in a world-wide hotel chain, at an international airport with world traveler passing through, would be air-conditioned. Wrong. Big nope. My room was +27.5C and the lowest you could set it was +21C! The lowest! A quick call down to the front desk realized my greatest fear. “I’m sorry, the aircon is now shut down for the season.”

I was dying. The only option left was to get into my car rental and run the AC, I just had to cool off somehow. My thick Canadian blood was boiling in more way than one.

Europeans loathe air conditioning and refuse to turn it on, that is if they have it, until late May and only if it’s over +30C. It’s shocking how many malls and stores you walk into and the temperature is clearly indicating at least +26, if not warmer, as if they are bragging how much they are keeping you nice and toasty warm. In July.

They even advertise here in the summer not to turn your air conditioners on lower than +26C to save on electrical costs. Not the temperature outside at +26, the setting on your air conditioner is not to be lower than +26C. What the hell is the point, then?

But in the winter, the stores blast the heat as if money was no object. (They frequently complain about how much it costs to run an air conditioner.) Malls proudly display a +27C indoor heat comfort. I just about die from heat exhaustion.

In December, if someone walks past quickly, creating a momentary breeze, the patio heaters are on and blankets passed around like free cigarettes, even if it’s a sunny +20C outside.

They don’t wear scarves to be stylish, it’s because they are imagining they will be soon freezing to death.

Yes, Europeans, especially southern Europeans, are terrified of being cold.

The second terror in a European’s life is running out of sugar. Especially sugar in your coffee.

The looks I get when I say I don’t need sugar in my coffee range anywhere from horrified to perplexed. It usually goes like this:

Uno cafe con leche, por favor.


Sin azucar.

No azucar?

No azucar.

No azucar?


Uno azucar?

Vally, uno azucar.



[Throws out sugar packet.]

Uno vino tinto, por favor…….

Drinking and driving

Europeans like to take things slow. Except drive. Put a calm, reasonable European behind the wheel of a vehicle and they instantly become maniacs, zipping along at 130 km/hr everywhere, horns a blaring, arms and fingers a flailing. I will give them this, though – they are master parkers. They can fit a 6 ft car into a 6 inch space like nobody’s business.

Anyways, back to the slow part.

I love the fact there are almost no drive through coffee establishments here. It’s even difficult to find a paper takeaway cup with at least a lid.  (Except, of course, at Starbucks.)

It is actually quite refreshing and somewhat civilized when expected to only do one thing at a time. You are either driving OR drinking coffee and never the two shall meet. Drinking coffee is a pleasure here, not a necessity. Drinking coffee is a ritual, not a habit. Not too many moms running around with a bucket and a half sized coffee thermal mugs here. If you don’t have the time to sit and have a cup of coffee, if you don’t make the time to sit and have a cup of coffee, something is amiss. Whole countries halt at certain times to sit and have a cup of coffee, basically sometime around 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. , lasting a half an hour or so. (Please, don’t forget the cookie.)

What we consider as law and order are ‘suggestions’ to Europeans. The speed limit; a suggested speed.  The lanes and lines on a road are only guidelines. Your assigned plane seats; the suggested area you might like to sit and if you find someone is already in your seat, sit in another without a fuss. The no smoking section is more or less the no smoking section, and is only true if everyone sitting there happens not to smoke.

There are no barriers or guard rails protecting us from ourselves. The assumption is that you have the common sense to have common sense. There are no laws here to wear bike helmets. (Even if there was or is, nobody pays any attention to it anyways.) There are no fences and guard rails on the edge of cliffs. If you are that stupid to go over the edge, nothing will stop you. You are free to act like an idiot, whether it is driving too fast or going over a cliff, when you so please.

There are limited signs on the highway indicating how far you are to the next town or your destination.  What does it matter? You’ll get there when you get there and if you are running behind, just speed up.

At first this disregard for rules seemed like chaos; the lack of urgency, laziness but in reality, it now is starting to actually feel more freeing.  I am slowly decompressing from my Canadian lifestyle and I have come to realize we are too uptight in North America.  (Could be all that coffee.) We have been lawed, policed and fined into submission. We live (and are ruled) by the clock. We fill every available hour to the point we don’t even enjoy, at minimum, a full 15 minutes to simply have a cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is something we do while we are doing something else, like obeying the speed limit and staying within the lines.

I don’t think there is a comparable translation for the word multi-tasking over here, in any language. They do one thing, methodically, at a time.  And take their time, they do. Nobody is in a rush over here. Except to arrive at point B and park that car.