Sunday dragged. My train wasn’t until the afternoon, so I had a whole day to think about what would happen when I returned to Lucca. And a very long train ride. I no longer knew if I was anxious for or dreading the moment when the train would finally pull into the station.
At last, the final minutes and the final kilometers (I was in Italy after all) passed me by and I found myself standing on the platform of the small station in Lucca. I looked around but Mario was nowhere in sight.
This was not an auspicious beginning.
The temperatures were freezing, and having little desire or patience to wait around for Mario to show up, I grabbed my suitcase and headed towards the main building. Mario and I hadn’t been specific about where we would meet, and though I had expected him to meet the train, I now hoped that I would find him inside. I hurried inside and scanned the interior.
No sign of Mario.
I took a deep breath, trying to calm my already frazzled emotions. I reached for my purse to pull out the phone that Mario had lent me, and just as my hand closed around it, I saw him outside, hurrying towards the station.
I don’t know what I expected. Just like when I had first arrived, the desire to rush into his arms was almost overwhelming. Yet pride held me back. I needed to first know where he stood.
As fate would have it, our reunion was interrupted by some friends who were also in the station. Obviously not picking up on the tension flying between us, they shouted greetings as they made their way across the station. Surprised to see me with bag in hand, they inquired over my journey. I mumbled some lame excuse about needing to make some visits and silently willed them to leave. I didn’t want to be rude, but the last thing I wanted to do was make conversation with people I barely knew.
Luckily, Mario felt the same way. As politely as possible, he made our excuses and then led the way out to the car. There was so much to say, yet silence descended as he started to head out to the Fiori’s. The first few attempts at conversation – mostly small talk about the goings on of the past few days – stumbled badly, eventually returning us to silence.
We were way past the Fiori’s by this point, but Mario continued to drive. Thought he conversation finally turned to the painful subject of our fast deteriorating relationship, he seemed unable to look in my direction. Finding it impossible to talk to a man whose eyes were glued to the road, I asked him if he could pull over so that we could talk. He wasn’t too happy about the suggestion, stating that it was easier for him to think while he was driving. However, since he wasn’t talking much anyways, and I was completely distracted, I decided to be bold and insist.
Mario pulled into a vacant parking lot. Once the car was turned off, a heavy feeling descended on the car. The moment of truth had arrived.
“Mario, devo sapere cosa stai pensando. Cos’e successo?” (“Mario, I need to know what you are thinking. What has happened?”
There was a moment of silence. While I feared that Mario would never start talking, I knew that the only chance at repairing our relationship depended on him opening up. After two weeks of hell, I still had no idea what was going on in his head.
So I waited.
Finally, Mario started to talk. But even as the words came haltingly out of his mouth, little was actually said. Excuses started piling up, with a frequent return to how little time there was before I left and how he wasn’t cut out for a long distance relationship.
I was floored. Nothing was making sense. How could the distance have caused out current problem when I was actually physically by his side? And why had he stopped trying when there was still plenty of time left in my visit?
Mario continued to talk in circles. The more I tried to clarify, the more confused his excuses became. The frustration continued to mount. Mario was clearly not revealing the source of the problem, but I had no idea of whether it was because he didn’t want to talk about the real problem or because he simply didn’t know.
As the hours passed, my heart sank further and further. One of the greatest parts of our relationship had always been our ability to understand each other. Though miscommunications had obviously happened, we had always gotten through them because we had both been committed to finding a way to understand the other. Ironically, Mario had always been the one that pushed us to find common ground, never letting me give into the frustrations that arose from our different languages and cultures. Now, it seemed that he had simply given up. And as a result, we were getting nowhere.
The words eventually ran out. Mario and I had not gotten any closer to reconciliation. I hadn’t seen my engagement ring since I had given it to him, and there was no sign of it tonight. I was leaving the following day. And finally reality descended.
It was over.