Tanti Auguri (Happy Birthday)


Mario started our first week together trying to get into a routine.  Both of us would work during the morning (he at his business and me via my computer) and would eventually meet up for lunch.  The afternoons were spent exploring the area, making last-minute wedding decisions, planning our upcoming weekend in Sicily and simply enjoying each other’s company.

Or so I thought.

As the days passed, I noticed that something seemed to be…off.  Mario, usually so joyous and outgoing, seemed to become more and more withdrawn.  I knew he was stressed about several things with his business and always seemed to be tired, so I tried to shake it off.  We both knew that this wasn’t going to be a simple “vacation,” and I assumed that his behavior was simply a side effect of trying to jam in everything in such a short period of time.

By Thursday, however, I could no longer shake the feeling that something was wrong.  Being that it was the American holiday of Thanksgiving – as well as my birthday – Mario and I had made special plans.  The day would consist of his usual morning at work, followed by a birthday lunch of pizza (my choice) and some time Skyping with my family (who were all gathered for the holiday).  The evening, however, was the big event. Mario had been excitedly planning a “special evening” for several weeks.  For months, he had been talking about this amazing restaurant where he wanted to hold the Italian reception and how much he wanted to take me there.  And so, for my birthday, he declared it the perfect destination.  We would get all dressed up and have an incredible evening in the place that we would eventually celebrate our marriage.

It all sounded very romantic, and I had been looking forward to it for some time.

When Mario picked me up for lunch, he seemed more distracted than usual.  Lunch was an abnormally quite affair, and when returned to his apartment in order to Skype with my parents he quickly begged off in order to take a nap.  I wanted to believe that he was only tired, trying to keep a brave face in front of my parents, but there was a sinking feeling in my gut that something wasn’t right.

Mario was still asleep when I finished talking to my parents.  He was still asleep after I watched one mindless sitcom show.  And then another.  The evening was wearing on, and still I heard nothing from the bedroom.  My stomach started to rumble, but I didn’t want to loss faith in the possibility that Mario would wake up and keep his promise of a romantic birthday dinner.

As the minutes ticked by I could no longer contain my concern.  It had been hours since I had heard Mario stir and I began to wonder if something was seriously wrong.  Deciding to check in on him, I quietly crept into the bedroom to see if he was okay.

The room was dark and Mario was huddled on one side of the bed.  I slipped in beside him, trying to ascertain if he was still sleeping.  Despite my attempts to be quiet, Mario awoke with a startled jerk.  Seeing me there, he mumbled something incoherent and then rolled back over.

Staring at his back, I felt hurt.  Rebuffed.  Ignored.  Tears welled in my eyes as I quickly exited the bedroom and headed back into the kitchen.  I tried to choke back my disappointment, but I couldn’t help feeling frustrated over how the entire day had gone – feelings that were amplified by the fact that it was my birthday and Mario seemed to care less.

My disappointment escalated into anger as I ransacked the kitchen, trying to find something to eat.  Grocery shopping had been on our to-do list, but had yet to be accomplished, so there was precious little to be found.  My earlier concern of “quiet” was thrown out of the window, with the noise escalating as I took my frustration out on the doors of the cupboards and refrigerator.

Lettuce.  Tuna.  Some olive oil and vinegar.

Tuna Salad.


As I put together my less than amazing birthday dinner, I head Mario calling me from the bedroom.  I took a deep breath in an effort to to push down my annoyance, grabbed my salad and slowly walked to the bedroom.

The room was dark, and Mario was still lying in bed, his face turned toward the entrance.  I stood in the doorframe, uncertain how to proceed.  I didn’t want to turn this into a big deal, especially if Mario was feeling unwell, but I couldn’t help feeling hurt from the distant way Mario had acted all day.

Mario quietly asked me what I was doing, and, not quite trusting my voice, I held out my salad.  He motioned me over and I reluctantly crossed over and sat on the edge of the bed.  He motioned me closer, but I stubbornly stayed where I was.  Despite my intention to keep calm, the desire to demonstrate my frustration was stronger.

The conversation was halting.  Though Mario obviously felt somewhat better after his lengthy nap, he had yet to return to his normal self.  And no matter how I tried to explain my feelings, Mario seemed unable to comprehend how much his actions – in particular, his failure to wake-up and keep his promise of a birthday dinner – had hurt my feelings.    We eventually came to a truce, promising to try and overlook the outcome of this particular day.  I could only hope that whatever was bothering Mario would be forgot by the morrow.


About ciaobellamiastory

What do you do with that magical moment when everything makes sense - when all the random choices, experiences and encounters come together, and you find that rare instant of clairty? Then what do you do when it all falls apart? About 12 years ago I decided to take an Italian 101 course. That seemingly random choice has forever altered the path of my life. My strange connection with the language, culture and people of Italy started with love and joy and culminated with unexpected loss, grief and despair. While previously I was content to follow this unpredictable path, today I seek to understand the reasons and lessons behind my journey. My journey towards understanding begins here.
This entry was posted in 2010, Choices, Italy, Mario, Pisa, Wedding Plans and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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