I slept fitfully that night, frustration over the day mixing with anxiety about our imminent departure for Mario’s home in Sicily making it impossible to fully relax. I wanted to settle things between us before we joined his family for the weekend, but since I was still unsure as to what was even wrong, I wasn’t quite sure what to do.
After a useless attempt to get some rest, I pulled on my workout clothes and set off for a long run in an attempt to clear my head. I went back through the past several days trying to figure out just what might have been bothering Mario. Though we had experienced the normal ups and downs of any relationship, I couldn’t point to any particular day or event that would have caused Mario to withdraw.
When I finally returned to the house, I had come to the conclusion that I was blowing things out of proportion. My nerves and Mario’s stress level were merely colliding in a way that we had yet to experience. And one thing I was sure of. In the past, any time Mario and I had disagreed, it had always been Mario who had pushed the hardest to make sure that we eventually found a way to communicate effectively. Despite the language barrier, the cultural differences and the ever-present variances in thought between men and women, we had always managed to reach some sort of understanding. Though I had never yet experienced this feeling of distance between us, I was confident that Mario would eventually snap out of it and explain what was going on in his head.
As I packed my weekend bag, my confidence increased that this was just some silly bump in the road. Mario and I were simply more used to making the long distance aspects of our relationship work. It was only natural that we would experience some moments of adjustment when we were able to be together.
Mario was later than usual picking me up and had a list of errands that he needed to accomplish before we caught our flight. As we drove from place to place, his phone continued to ring, and I sat silently as he attempted to work through problem after problem with his employees. Trying to be supportive of his work, I tried asking him what was going on, but his short answers did little to help me understand and I could tell he had little desire to try and explain. The afternoon passed in a rush, with barely a word spoken between us, and the confidence I had gained that morning began to quickly fade.
As we pulled up to the airport, Mario informed me that one of his friends would be meeting us in the waiting lounge. Roberto worked near by and had been eager to meet me, so they had decided to take advantage of the opportunity. By this point my frustration level was reaching dangerous levels. I wanted to talk to Mario, not his friend, and figure out what was wrong. But Mario seemed to be avoiding the conversation.
The meeting in the airport was disastrous. Though Mario and I both tried to put on a friendly façade, the tension between us was palpable and it was obvious that Roberto knew something was wrong. While I wanted to make a good impression on one of Mario’s best friends, I was so distracted by Mario’s behavior that I could barely concentrate.
Finally it was time to board. After saying our goodbyes, we headed towards the gate. By this point, Mario had withdrawn verbally and physically and I was having a hard time keeping my emotions in check. As we settled into our seats, I was determined to take advantage of the short flight to Sicily to try and figure out what was going on.
The conversation was mostly one-sided. Trying desperately to pick up clues from the brief statements and questions that Mario contributed, I kept up a running dialogue of how important it was for me that we were open with each other. How I knew that things hadn’t gone perfectly, but how happy I was to be there with him and how much I wanted us to enjoy our time together. Eventually, Mario seemed to relax. When he finally reached over and held my hand, I gripped it tightly, afraid of severing the first moment of connection we had had all day. While Mario still hadn’t opened up and let me know what was bothering him, it seemed like we were on the right path. I could only hope that as we returned to his beloved Sicily, away from the stress of his work, he would finally be able to share with me his thoughts. It was just a matter of being patient.