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Report 884: Single and Solo in Italy: One Woman's Tale of Love, Latte and The Pursuit of Happiness...

By teachick from Los Angeles, CA, Winter 2005

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Page 4 of 6: A Kiss, Montenegro, and Gabby...

Now we’ve arrived in front of the Hotel Astoria. I am deep in conversation with myself at this point as I realize what could and could not happen now. Had I not just had a falling out with my Bologna boy and had he not still been so deeply under my skin (grr) I may have considered, well you know…. But, as I am me and I can’t be with two men at once, even in my head, I only agree to kiss him goodnight. Yes, he asks me for a kiss. It’s almost midnight so it’s nearly Valentines Day after all. And in my head I’m telling myself that I'm-going-to-kiss-a-man-on-Valentines-Day-in- Venice. How cool is THAT? So, he kisses me. And then he kisses me again. I say thank you and that I have to go inside. He begs me (no, seriously he begged me. It was beautiful)) to stay one more day so that he can take me out for a “romantica” dinner. I decide I miss Florence too much so I say farewell and I go in and to bed - alone. We do exchange numbers though…

The next morning I am on my way back to Florence. I am happy to be welcomed back by Leo and he has moved me to a bigger room that I like very much as well. I settle in for a bit and then I’m off to Caffelatte for my bowl of sunshine. As I enter I am greeted like a local. Love that. A little later an old woman comes in and sits down at the table next to me. She walks unsteadily with a cane and clearly has Parkinson’s as her hands keep shaking. One side of her face is also partially paralyzed as well, so her speech is greatly impaired. She orders a fancy piece of cake. I am introduced to her by the waitress. Her name is Veronica (her friends call her gabby she later tells me) and she used to be an artist. We begin to talk and we spend well over an hour getting to know one another. She speaks of her regrets and how she had the chance to move to California years ago and decided to come back to Italy instead. She had lived in America for some time and loved it. She tells me she is all alone and that she is unhappy as her shaking has stopped her from painting anymore. I tell her my story about my bologna boy and she tells me about her great lovers and how it is so hard to find a man that suits you. I tell her that I am a writer trapped in my head and that I am suffering too as I have not been able to get much out lately. We part and agree to see each other again before I leave.

I come back a couple of days later and there she is. We sit and open our hearts to one another. She is very beautiful to me as she is so human and flawed and broken and yet somehow still so alive. It is my last day in Florence and I know I am going to miss her. We make a pact that she will try to paint again and I will try to get my stories on the Page. As we leave the café I give her my address and ask her to try and write to me. I know she probably will not, but I hate to leave her without knowing she can reach me. Without her knowing it I walk behind her a bit down the street and take her picture as she is walking away from me. She turns around to watch me as well, as if she too is sad to leave me. It is in that moment I know why I have come on this trip: I have come to connect to the people of Italy and in doing so I have discovered parts of myself that needed to be opened again. I have let go of what was supposed to be and welcomed the gifts that have found me in doing so. I have found Federica and Gabby and Leo. Not bad for a girl who came looking for a passionate tryst with an old lover…

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