I’m not sure how long I stayed wrapped in Mario’s arms, but with every second that passed, I could feel all the anxiety, nervousness, loneliness and frustration of the past few months slowly ebb away. In return, a feeling of peace, calm and…right…swept over me.
Mario held me tight, occasionally kissing my hair while murmuring words so soft that I couldn’t even register them. The world around us faded until it seemed possible that nothing and nobody else existed beyond the two of us.
While I had no desire to leave his arms again, eventually reality (and the fact that we were still in the middle of the airport) set back in. Reluctantly we drew back, located my suitcases and headed for the exit.
As I walked through the doors, re-entering the city of Pisa, hand in hand with Mario, I could hardly believe that it was all real. It didn’t seem possible that I could actually be back in the city where, 8 months earlier, we had met for the first time. Now we were engaged and I was getting ready to move back to start my life with him. It was just so surreal.
Mario led me to his car, chattering away about plans for the day and the weeks ahead. Since he had to stop by the church that afternoon to help out a group of members, we couldn’t head immediately to his place in the small city of Lucca (about 30 minutes outside of Pisa). Instead we decided to stop for a quick lunch and the opportunity to get reused to being in each other’s physical presence.
For some absurd reason, I found that I felt shy. Even though we had “seen” each other almost every day, I quickly realized that it wasn’t nearly the same. Mario obviously felt a similar sensation as we awkwardly got into the car to head towards the restaurant. Informing me that he needed to make a quick stop, he pulled into the crazy Pisa traffic and a nervous silence prevailed as we headed towards a near by building. As I started to undo my seat belt, Mario leaned over and stole a quick kiss – the first one since I had arrived. As I stared at him in quasi-shock, he caressed my face and said, smiling, “Ora, sara’ piu normale” (Now it will be more normal), before bounding out of the car.
The kiss did manage to break the initial awkwardness. Hand in hand we dropped off his package and then headed to a restaurant in town. Even though it had only been about 20 hours since we had last talked, we quickly had a steady stream of conversation running, eager to catch up on every detail of the last day and to go over every plan for my visit. Since Mario’s apartment was so small, and only had one bedroom, a kind couple from the church, the Fiori’s, were allowing me to stay at their nearby home. Though Mario would still need to work (and I would be doing some long distance “work from home”), we planned on finalizing all the wedding plans, introducing me to life in Lucca, receiving a visit from my friend Cara and her husband, and taking a trip down to Sicily to meet Mario’s family. It was going to be a crazy 10 days and I couldn’t wait to get started.