In his letter, Mario peppered me with questions. Curious about my live in DC, my family, my work, answering every inquiry took a lengthy letter in return.
And so it began.
Every morning when I woke up, I would find a letter from Mario. Every evening, when I returned home from work, I would respond. Details about our lives, our families, our hobbies and our interests began to flow freely across the Atlantic. We loved to discover that we had in common (down to our favorite sport of basketball – very strange for an Italian) but were equally fascinated by the differences in our lives and upbringings.
Slowly, as the weeks passed, the questions became more and more personal. Hopes, dreams, fears and weaknesses were slowly revealed.
This was both exciting and extremely unsettling.
At no point during these exchanges was it ever discussed WHY we were writing each other. As more time passed, and Mario made no effort to explain his intentions or his thoughts behind the letters, nagging doubts and questions began to creep into my head.
I am a girl after all.
Was he just curious? Looking for an American pen pal to pass the time? Maybe he had no point at all! Maybe this was just a waste of time!
Etc., etc., etc.
The problem was, I was starting to get attached. As much as I kept telling myself that this was crazy, that it was only letters and nothing more serious, I couldn’t deny that my emotions had been touched. I knew that by this point, if I found out that I was just some chummy pen pal he wrote out of boredom, I was going to be a little crushed.
I kept telling myself to be patient. That I should just enjoy getting to know him better and that for now there was no real reason to dig at they why he was writing me.
But that didn’t mean I stopped wondering.
Then, one Sunday, after a few weeks of daily letter writing, we graduated to Skyping. Not a video call, just the ability to write back and forth in real time. That afternoon, we wrote back and forth over an hour, enjoying our first “real” conversation in over a month. The words flowed easily, and though it was lovely to have instant responses to my questions and enjoy the ebb and flow of true dialogue, when I finally closed my computer, I was more confused than ever. All signs pointed to a level of increased interest on his part, but I was having a hard time making that presumption. I needed to know for sure.
Then, it happened. I woke up the following morning and eagerly opened my computer.