I woke up the next morning with my head in a fog. I had no desire to get out of bed. No desire to pack. No desire to face Mario one more time. All I wanted to do was pull the covers back over my head and shut out the world.
How had everything gone so wrong? Two weeks earlier I was completely in love, happily engaged, and planning my future in Italy. Now, my entire life was in shambles. My fiancé had been replaced with a man I hardly recognized. The wedding was off. And since all the plans for the move were already in motion, including a resignation from my job that was effective in less than a week, I had no idea what would await me when I returned home to DC.
My mind was spinning, plummeting me into a dark, depressed and scary place. I knew it was dangerous to continue to lay there, my mind replaying all of the most hurtful moments from the last two weeks, desperately trying to find the moment where if I had only done something differently, everything would have gone back to normal. And yet, I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
And so I lay there, falling deeper into despair, until an errant glance at the clock jolted me up. Mario would be there soon to take me to the airport, and I was nowhere close to being ready.
After a quick shower and some haphazard packing, I was still not completely ready when Mario pulled up. He quietly waited while I frantically pulled the rest of my stuff together – including the extra suitcase of things that I had planned to leave behind in Italy to help start my move into Mario’s apartment – and finally, we were ready to leave.
The drive to the airport was never ending. Neither Mario nor I had anything to say at this point. All hopes of a last minute reconciliation were completely dead. All I wanted to do was find a way to get on the plane with some semblance of my pride still intact.
I had thought that Mario would just drop me off, but he seemed reluctant to leave. He quietly waited with me in line to check in and drop off my bags and then seeing that there was still plenty of time before I had to board, steered me over to an airport café. I watched dumbfounded as be bought some sandwiches, which we then awkwardly ate as he tried to make conversation.
Once again, Mario’s words were all over the place. Small talk was combined with excuses and apologies. I could see the pain, frustration and resignation in his eyes, but there was no cracking the wall that he had erected.
I couldn’t stand it any longer. Shoving the last bit of the tasteless sandwhich into my mouth, I grabbed my carry on and tried to escape to the security checkpoint. Once again, Mario kept pace with me, and just as I was about to enter the line, I felt his restraining hand on my arm. He pulled me to the side, but as I looked at him expectantly, he refused to meet my eyes. Finally, so softly that I almost missed it, he uttered two simple words.
“Mi dispiace.” (“I’m sorry.”)
Those words were my undoing. My attempt to leave with my dignity intact was thwarted with all the emotion that lay behind his words. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes, and, helpless to stop them, I lowered my head as they began to flow freely down my face.
Mario pulled me into his arms as I cried. Cried for the pain. Cried for the loss. And cried for the confusion over how we had ended up in that moment. My body started to shake with the sobs, and still I couldn’t stop. I could feel him stroking my back, kissing my head, but his tenderness only made my cry harder. Then, through my whimpers, I could hear his whispered words. Words of regret. Of Pain. And excuses. So many excuses.
I couldn’t bear to listen to another word. Shoving myself away from his embrace, I managed to pull myself together. Mopping my face with my now permanent supply of tissues, I reached down and grabbed my bag. Once I had my composure, I lifted my head, and pinned him with a long and searching glance. Then, without a word, I turned on my heel and walked away. I didn’t look back as I weaved through the line, showing my passport and ticket, and going through security. Then, once I had collected all my things, I gave into the desire for one final moment. Mario, was still there, watching me. He raised a hand to wave, but I simply stared. Then, without a word or gesture, I turned my back on him and walked into the terminal.
As I found a chair and waited for my plane to board, I felt a wave of shock rush over me. I had no idea how I had arrived at this moment. And I had no idea what I was going to do next.
All I knew was that life as I had known it was never going to be the same.