When I woke up the next morning, I was eager to see what the day had in store. I was cautiously optimistic that Mario was starting to come around and that we could take the steps to repair the damage of the past few days. While I was not at all happy with this unexpected behavior, and I knew that Mario and I needed to have a serious talk about it, I was more concerned about moving on from the emotional turmoil and healing our fractured relationship.
The morning went as normal. Mario picked me up after finishing a morning at work and we headed back to his place to have lunch with Nonna. She had spent the day being the typical Italian grandmother – cleaning and cooking. As we arrived, the aromas of a delicious bean soup and a fresh smelling apartment greeted us.
As happy as I was for Mario that Nonna could come and stay, I was craving an opportunity to talk to Mario alone, to try and get in his head. Things were still fragile, and I didn’t want to have this conversation in front of his grandmother.
While we were eating, Mario mentioned that he had to go back to work that afternoon. There were some specific tasks that needed to be done that day, and he was the only one who could accomplish them. Wanting to seize the moment, I asked if I could accompany him, keeping him company in his car as he visited all his different vendors. He nodded his agreement and once the lunch break was over, I found myself back in his car and driving all over town.
It was quickly apparent this was not going to be the moment for a sincere and honest conversation. Mario’s phone was constantly ringing, and there seemed to be no end to the problems that arose. Every time I asked for an explanation, trying to understand what was going on, Mario’s frustration seemed to rise. Obviously he didn’t want to have to repeat everything, especially as the phone would most often ring before he had finished. Not wanting to push, I decided that the best course of action was to be a silent support. As we raced around town, Mario talking a mile a minute, I pulled a book out of my bag and started to read.
Mario glanced over quizzically every once and a while, and once he had a break, he asked me what I was doing. I showed him my book, trying to explain that I was simply happy to be with him, but I didn’t want to prevent him from what he needed to get done, so I was just finding a way to entertain myself. He nodded, but gave no comment, and I went back to my story.
It was getting late by the time we finished and Mario was obviously tired and frustrated from the way things had gone. The stress level from his work seemed to be rising daily, but since he didn’t want to talk about it, I felt helpless. Mario obviously didn’t want to get me involved, and as much as I chaffed from being excluded, I didn’t want to rock the boat.
It wasn’t until after dinner that we finally had a moment. Mario was driving me back to the Fiori’s, and we had once again descended into silence. I knew Mario was tired, but I didn’t want to let the day end without having some inkling of how things stood. I seemed to know Mario less now than when I arrived, and though I didn’t want to panic, things had been steadily crumbling. The hope that I had felt that morning had dimmed throughout the day, and I was desperate to get us back on the road of repairing.
I should have known better. From the moment of my first question, the stress and frustration that Mario was feeling seeped into the conversation. Mario quickly closed down, and once again I found myself completely shut out from his thoughts. My plan of talking calmly and clearly flew out the window, and I found myself oscillating between pleading, begging and accusing. I was sick and tired of Mario not trying and for the endless stream of hollow excuses: mostly his work, the distance and the fact that I was leaving at the end of the work. None of his reasons held up under questioning, but he refused to go deeper and tell me what was actually bothering him.
The conversation escalated into a full-fledge argument. Though heartsick that we were once again arguing, I was running out of tactics. Mario was so…apathetic. Emotionless. Nothing seemed to faze his stony demeanor and the more emotional I became, the less he seemed to respond.
Finally, in a fit of frustration, I got out of the car. With tears streaming down my face, I once again begged Mario to think about what he was doing. It was still completely possible for us to fix this. All he needed to do was open up and start communicating. But he had to TRY. With that final thought, I shut the door and stumbled into the house.