When I first saw him, he was sipping on his coffee sitting on a bar stool, looking around and occasionally nodding while chatting with the bartender.
I have met Antonio in the town I was staying at while walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. We were the only two staying in town that night since it is rare to walk the route during that time of the year. He invited me over for the dinner he prepared for himself. When I asked what I drink should bring for dinner he said "I will drink water, you can bring whatever you like for yourself".
Antonio is 64 years old. 30 years sober. "Remember the drunk guy we saw at the bar ?" he asks "I used to be just like him".
Never married. When I asked why, he answers "I'm crazy" with a smile, "I'm not quite stable mentally". Confused, I say "What do you mean? You look 'normal' "- but I notice this was the exact reason that made me notice him. "I was even worse in my thirties. I got better gradually but never got married. It's hard living with me" he adds.
We meet early and head to a cafe for breakfast. As I try to take his backpack inside, which I thought he forgot outside, Antonio says "leave it there. Nobody will do anything to it, we're all friends."(at that moment, he knows nobody from the town except for the bartender). Making eye contact with a few people around, I leave the bag where it was, smiling.
I say goodbye to the "crazy" Antonio from Madrid, who lives with his trust and love for the people he never met, sharing his dinner, sober for 30 years. He gets the last word of course "Life is a miracle, don't ever forget".
Everyone continues the pilgrimage where they left off. I have another three days of walk and I notice right at that time that I am not looking for stories. They are everywhere.