For those first few moments, all I could do is stand there, staring at the escalator that had removed him from my sight. Finally, slowly, I turned around and walked towards the exit.
I could sense the sadness starting to well up within me. How was I going to get through the next few months? How was I going to get through TONIGHT?
As I reached my car, I knew that I had to do something. Even though Mario was returning home, and we were going to be physically separated for a short time, this was still a joyous moment. I had found the man I loved and wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We were engaged. And that was something that I needed to celebrate.
I pulled out my phone. Besides our immediate families (and my roommates) Mario and I hadn’t really started to spread the news, choosing instead to enjoy our last few days together. Now that he was gone, I needed to start telling people. I needed to let there excitement pull me back into my happy state of mind instead of moping around about the fact that Mario was on a plane.
Aunts, Uncles, cousins, friends. The long car ride home was spent sharing the news and telling the story…over and over. All the exclamations of joy and the smug “I KNEW this was going to happen!” lifted my spirits and plastered a silly grin on my face.
As I neared home, looking forward to the next day when I would return to work and share the news, I realized that there was a small problem. My boss, a man who was both a mentor and a friend, and who I absolutely wanted to be the first to hear, was leaving town on a business trip early the next morning. And would be gone for the rest of the week.
So what do I do now? I didn’t want him to be the last to know. And there was no way I was going to be able to keep the news hidden from everybody else in my department. Then, suddenly, I remembered that there had been an event at the theatre that night. I checked the clock. It was possible that he would still be there. I quickly changed course and headed into DC.
As I drove along, Mario called. His planed was boarding and he wanted to say goodbye before he got on. We had a few brief moments to talk and when I told him where I was headed, he paused. “Sei sicura d’essere pronta?” (Are you sure you’re ready?)
You see, Mario understood what this conversation meant. Over the last few days as we discussed our future, Mario and I had come to the conclusion that the best decision for us, as a couple, was to start our life together in Italy. While we didn’t know if we would stay there permanently, it was the right place to begin. Which means I wasn’t just telling my boss that I was engaged. I was letting him know that I would be leaving.
“Si, sono pronta.” (Yes, I’m ready)
Mario wished me good luck, asking me to write him and let him know how it went. I assured him I would, and after a quick “buon viaggio,” he was gone.
I pulled up to the theatre. Everything looked dark and locked up. The event had obviously ended earlier than I had anticipated. As I debated pulling out my phone and calling my boss (who lived just a short distance from the building), I saw one final group walk out the theatre doors. And there he was.
Still sitting in my car, I called out his name. He turned, surprised, and then quickly walked over, a look of concern on his face. “Is everything alright? Are you ok?”
With my words failing me, all I could do was lift my left hand.
His look of concern quickly transformed into a huge grin. Letting out a shout of joy, he pulled me out of the car and wrapped me in a big hug. I had brought Mario by the theatre several times, so everybody had met him, and my boss was full of approval. He couldn’t stop smiling as he exclaimed “I knew this was going to happen.”
I thanked him for his congratulations and then, quietly mentioned that I was glad to have found him here, that I had wanted to make sure that he was the first at the theatre to hear.
Comprehension dawned. “Where will you be living?”
His smile grew soft, and he pulled me in for another hug.
“I’m so happy for you.”
Once again, the tears started to well up. My voice trembled as I thanked him.
“When are you getting married?”
“We’re not sure yet. After the first of the year.”
“We’ll work it all out.”
After one final embrace, I wished him safe travels and got back in my car. Heading home, I felt relieved that he knew, and that the news had gone over so well. While I couldn’t imagine not working there anymore, I was grateful that there was plenty of time to figure out the transition.
Emotionally and physically exhausted by this point, I was happy to finally reach home so that I could collapse into bed. Then, as I climbed the stairs to my room, I realized that my night wasn’t over yet. There was one more person to call.