We last left our heroine, Susan, freshly-showered and ready to have her Italian dream come true…
I met him in a parking lot, and we walked to the Piazza dei Miracoli, where the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa lives. I took photos. We talked, mainly in English. He’s taking an English course, so was eager to practice. I interjected in Italian when I could, and I was surprised how well we communicated, despite the fact that we weren’t totally fluent in each other’s languages.
I took a photo of us together in front of the tower, wanting visible evidence of this bizarre experience to share with my friends.
After wandering around the Camposanto (cemetery), we sat at an outdoor cafe for Aperol spritz and bruschetta. More talking. After his marriage ended, they put the house for sale. His ex moved with the kids back to Napoli to be near family. He moved into the barracks on the Naval base. We shared stories, not dipping too far into the inevitable sadness that surrounds the end of a relationship.
We walked more. He took my hand.
We wandered into the botanical gardens. He paid (I weakly protested, but really, I was glad.). I pointed out plants we had at home. We entered the tropical rainforest greenhouse. There, below an elephant ear plant, he leaned in and kissed me. While I was enjoying the kiss, blood pumped through my brain. Could this really be happening? In Italy? In a garden? Seriously, was I in some rom-com movie?
We kissed in the desert area. Under trees. On a park bench. I said we were acting like teenagers. He said, “aren’t we teenagers today?”
It felt like we were.
If I’d been in the US I would have been more self-conscious about sucking face with a man in public (at my age…or in general), but in Italy, you saw it everywhere. Plus: this is a dream, right?
We grew more comfortable with each other over the next several hours. We made plans to see each other when I returned from Sardinia in 5 days. He took me to the airport. We kissed. I blew him un bacio as I rushed through security.
He seemed like a great guy, which frustrated me. I’ve wanted a guy just like this at home…and when I find him, he lives thousands of miles away. I don’t want a long-distance relationship. I don’t want the pain that comes from seeing each other rarely and the heartbreak that comes from saying goodbye.
We have texted every day since (I’m in Sardinia now). He picked up on me calling him “honey” (I’m a Southern girl, after all) and now he calls me “honey Susan.”
I don’t want this…and yet I do. It feels marvelous to have a man who isn’t afraid to tell me that I make him happy, that he can be himself around me. It’s wonderful to feel attractive and desired. But…what comes next? It’s an impossible situation.
Aren’t all dreams?