As tired as I was, the jet lag state of my body meant that I was up bright and early. Lying in bed in a futile attempt to go back to sleep, my mind started wandering over our first day together and everything that we needed to accomplish before I would be returning to the States. While I could hardly believe that it was real, that I was actually in Italy, I was eager for Mario to arrive so that we could start the day together.
Eventually it was time to get up and get ready for the day. I quickly showered, dressed and then headed into the kitchen to make some breakfast. Signora Fiori already there, and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know her better and express my gratitude for their hospitality. Finally, I heard the ringing of the citofono (the Italian entry buzzer) that signaled Mario’s arrival. As I rushed to open the door, I could feel my heart racing with anticipation. Mario arrived with his usual smile and “Buon giorno amore mio!” (Good morning my love!). It was the best start possible to any morning.
It was strange to return to the church where Mario and I had first met. I was overwhelmed with memories of the fateful spring morning that had changed our lives forever. I was warmly welcomed by the members (who seemed to be almost as eager as Mario for my arrival) and quickly folded into the classes and conversations. The service passed quickly and after waiting for Mario to finish some of his duties, we set off back to the Fiori’s for a delicious Sunday lunch.
Somewhere over the course of that day, something clicked within my brain. As we drove back to spend the evening at Mario’s apartment, I was overwhelmed with the realization that in about 2 months time this was going to become my reality. Though the decision to start our lives together in Italy had been made months before, and I had spent many hours planning and contemplating the move that was ahead of me, it wasn’t until I was actually there, sitting beside the man to whom I was about to pledge myself, that it began to fully sink in. This was what my new life was going to be like.
I got really quiet as the enormity of the situation washed over me. Staring out the window at the beautiful scenery passing by, I felt the first wave of panic. Yes, I loved this man. Yes, I loved this country. But was I really ready to move my entire life here?
Mario was quick to notice my silence. Though I tried to respond truthfully to his concerned inquiry, I couldn’t fully explain the whirl of emotions and thoughts that were spinning around my jet-lagged brain. Which meant I resorted to more silence. Which drove Mario crazy. Suddenly, a simple moment of panic (which I had predicted would happen at least once during my trip), turned into a heated, if slightly one-sided conversation, as Mario desperately tried to figure out what was going on in my head.
It didn’t last long. As we neared Mario’s neighborhood, our conversation was interrupted by the “squealo” (quick ring) of Mario’s cellphone. His uncle was calling, inviting us over later for dinner. The call continued until we reached the apartment door, giving both of us a moment to calm down, and the new itinerary forced us to set aside the argument in order to get ready for the evening ahead.
But it lingered. Finally, as everything was ready and we were about to walk once again out the front door, Mario grabbed me by the hand and pulled me close.
“Mi promette di sempre provare a parlare, a spiegare? Voglio che proviamo sempre un modo di communicare, anche quando non ci capiamo.”
(“Will you promise me to always try to talk, to explain? I want us to always try to find a way to communicate, even when we don’t understand each other.”)
I nodded my agreement and gave him a fierce hug. He was right. Silence was not the answer. We owed it to each other to always try and communicate.
If I had only known how much that plea would come back to haunt me.