I left a small shopping bag in a hotel room in San Sebastian, Spain. Inside were odds and ends I had collected on our trip: postcards, brochures, ticket stubs. But the real treasure was a Spanish lottery ticket.
Our very first night in Spain, we found ourselves having a spanglish conversation with a bartender and one his regulars, Jose, an older man who lived nearby. After a few beers, Jose turned to us and said "Well, are you ready for a real dinner?" We followed him to a lovely restaurant, and later, back to his home in one of Madrid's oldest residential buildings. He shared family photos and talked about his beloved boys, now grown. As he walked us to the door, he pulled a stack of lottery tickets out of his pocket. "The National Christmas Lottery. Take a ticket. If you do win, you must tell me. And someday, when you have children, you must tell me that too."
We asked for his contact information. He signed the ticket and handed it to us. " There's my name. You're standing in my home. Find me when you need to."
When we got back to Los Angeles, and I realized where I had left the ticket, I was heartbroken. I emailed the hotel, and asked if they had found, and kept, a small shopping bag. They had! They would mail it to me.
I waited and waited, and emailed again and again. It never came. Wherever that lottery ticket is, with Jose's full name scrawled across it, I'm sure I'll never see it again. But when the pangs of regret or curiosity strikes, I head for google street view, and try to retrace our steps to Jose's door, just in case we do need to find him.