I kept stalling.
The week passed, and the letters appeared like clock work. I started every morning reading Mario’s words – words that were just as friendly, just as inquisitive. I didn’t want to do anything that was going to mess this up – whatever “this” was. But even as I enjoyed our daily banter, my questions loomed, overshadowing everything.
Sunday rolled around. Once again, I found myself sitting on my bed, instant chatting with Mario. After the normal pleasantries, Mario began quizzing me about all my trips to Italy – my departure cities, where I flew into, if they had been direct flights, etc. When I asked him the reason behind all the questions, he started to hedge a little bit, saying that he had a long time dream of visiting America, that he had friends who were constantly inviting him, and that first subtle hint of coming to see me.
I couldn’t handle it any more. It was time to get some answers.
Mario, posso farti una domanda?
(Mario, can I ask you a question?)
(Of course. Ask away.)
In questi giorni ho avuto un po ‘di tempo di pensare….e ti devo confessare, sono troppo curiosa….
Perche’ mi scrivi?
(Over the past few days I’ve had some time to think, and I have to admit, I’m really curious…
Why do you write me?)
Subtlety is not my strongest suit.
It took him almost a full minute to respond. And his response was no answer at all.
E tu perche’ lo fai? Non sembra una bella domanda.
(Why do you write me? That doesn’t seem like a nice question.)
Crap. This was not the way I had hoped this conversation would go. Obviously I had caught him off guard. And obviously he wasn’t too pleased about being put on the spot.
In a bizarre cross between soothing, backtracking, and (paradoxically) holding my ground, I tried to explain my reasoning behind the question.
The conversation went quickly downhill. I was having a hard enough time trying to explain to myself what I was thinking, but then trying to translate it to a guy while trying to not offend him? I was quickly becoming a jumbled mess.
Finally I realized that I was going to have to bite the bullet and explain what had happened this week, the realization that happened when that fateful Monday passed without a letter from him, about my insecurity in regards to his intentions. In short, I was going to have to explain that I was getting attached, and that I needed some assurance that it wasn’t completely one-sided.
Mario waited patiently for me to try and find the right words. I tried to be bold. To tell him how important his letters had become, how much it had thrown me to not hear from him, that it was weird to share all these deep and intimate details of my life with someone when I didn’t know what he was thinking, that I was lacking a certain security and that, in the end, I didn’t know what to expect from him.
With every word I wrote, I had the sinking feeling that I was ruining everything.
After my fumbled monologue was completed, I awaited his response. I felt like I had opened myself up much farther than I had wanted, and yet it was a relief to finally talk plainly about what we were doing. I wasn’t sure that I was going to like the answer, but at least I would finally have one.
At last, Mario started explaining.
It quickly became clear that Mario didn’t have a plan. All he knew is that he had felt something when we had met and he wanted to get to know me better. Even though he knew that there were a lot of obstacles in our way – our different cultures, languages and, above all, the distance – he still wanted to explore the possibility. For him, one of the most important parts in building a relationship was to simply share the everyday. Since we couldn’t be in each other’s physical presence, he had turned to letter writing, and even though he wasn’t sure what the future would hold, his “aspettative sono positive” (his expectations were good).
He was also confused as to why this process – and his interest – wasn’t clear to me.
I guess some things will always be different for men and women.
Mario and I talked for over two hours that day. As we were both going on vacation the following weekend, and internet access (and therefore, the ability to write) was going to be somewhat unpredictable, it was a relief to leave with a clearer understanding of what each side was thinking. When we finally said goodbye, it was with a promise to keep future communication open and honest – and a challenge for Mario to learn more English so that he could better understand what it was like for me to have these conversations in my second language.
I closed my computer that day knowing that, while we didn’t know what was going to happen between us, at least we both were on the same path. And for now, that was all I needed.