It all began with a kiss. Seemingly out of nowhere, Guido descended into my life like a grenade, willfully deposited right next to me, to go off some time in the future. He must have been watching me for a while. Everyday, my route was the same: head down to the local café to drink in a cappuccino, restoring my senses, before greeting the sunshine in the park next door. I would throw a journal into my bag for the small glimmer of hope that I might be inspired to write something. I am in Rome, the eternal city. Something could happen worth writing about, couldn’t it? Well, something did happen, but I was much too busy to even remember to write, let alone continue to pack my journal.
I was sitting on the edge of the fountain. It was one of those days when the only way to even be able to sit outside is to do it before 11 in the morning. Otherwise, your skin will blister in the heat, your clothes will be drenched, and as if in a rain storm, you charge for shelter inside your shady home, closing the shutters upon yourself like a locked away treasure.
I should have done this that day; locked myself away. But, I continued to sit, the sun shining directly on my face as I closed my eyes, lost in thought.
I feel a presence next to me, and open my eyes to see a smiling figure sitting on the fountain beside me. It took me a few moments to compose myself, as he said “Buon Giorno”. I smile and give my best sounding Italian response, “Buon Giorno”. “Oh, an American? Are you American?” Athough spoken in a thick Italian accent, I knew immediately that he was accustomed to speaking English. I also knew that he probably had done this before: approached a young woman in the park on an ordinary afternoon. I try to get back to reality and compose myself. He is a pleasant looking man, impeccably dressed, almost out of place in the steamy park. For all I know this is an Italian pastime. I have heard and seen for myself the Italian habit of catcalling, but this was new to me. Oh well, I will play his game.
“Ciao. Mi chiamo Guido.” He holds out his hand. It was surprisingly fresh and clean. “I am Guido.” “Hello. My name is Sonya.” I make sure my handshake is strong, to let him know that I am not some unsuspecting American tourist. I’ve been here a while. I notice his teeth as he laughs. Perfect, white, almost movie star stunning. Kind of surprising for an Italian. “Well, it is so nice to meet you Sonya. I work here, just two streets away. I sell, how do you say in English…real estate… in Rome. I have sold to a very few Americans who come here for an apartment, but mostly Europeans. Do you live nearby?” “Yes, very close.” I respond, hesitant to share with him. He had pointed in the direction of my apartment when he said he worked nearby. Not sure if I can trust him, just yet. “Well, I will let you get back to the sun. It will be strong today.” His button-down shirt is bright and clean, as if he just stepped out of air conditioning, but, in Italy, air conditioning is an anomaly. He lightly touches my upper arm, and I notice that he makes it a point to look me in the eyes. “Ciao Bella. I will see you soon, OK?” He walks away. And I watch him. He is kind of self assuredly sweet. He left me with a good feeling, and I admit to thinking about him for a long, long while. He was hard to resist and very nice to look at. A good looking Italian. I love those.
The very next day, I go through my normal routine with a different intent in mind. I am hoping to see him again. I only wish I could say there were alarm bells ringing in my head, but the only things I was thinking about were how good looking that he was and how intently he looked into my eyes. It felt like he knew me somehow, and I felt good in this nameless city. I spent a good amount of time à la toilette making sure I looked just perfect and put on my best outfit: a slim fitting black pencil skirt with a blue top to show off my figure. I thought if only I could control the heat to make it look like my best outfit, if I am lucky enough to run into him again. Fat chance though. I was drenched before I even went out the door for my cappuccino. I slide on my sandals with heels and close the door after me, leaving my journal behind.
This time, when I arrive at my usual café, I notice him immediately sitting at a table out front, facing the street. I try to pretend I don’t notice him and take a table closer inside. The shade is much cooler anyway. I’m not sure how he can sit in the sun. Could it be acclimation? When I look at him again, he is talking on his cell phone. Funny, he isn’t using his hands like most Italians. He is so calm and composed. He is glancing my way as he speaks. He does not smile, but gives me a look of recognition. My cappuccino arrives, and I start to drink. I wish I had brought my journal today. I’d have something to occupy myself with. I should be doing some work on my research as well, but my mind has admittedly been too distracted for serious thought ever since yesterday morning. The cappuccino doesn’t seem to be giving me back my senses this morning. In fact, I think I’ve lost them permanently. I am feeling a little disarmed, but in a good way. Feeling full of freedom and lightness, and I value this feeling. It is as if life could go on forever indefinitely.
I notice him smiling at me while on the phone. He is now looking at me intently, and I start to feel slightly exposed, uncomfortable. I look down and contemplate leaving my cappuccino half finished, when he gets up and starts walking toward me. “Ciao..uh, Sonya, is that right?” He takes my hand and he kisses me lightly on the cheek. I offer the other and notice his scent as I breathe in, almost sighing anxiously. This really is not like me at all. To be nervous. Not sure where this is coming from. “You are going to the park today? I will take you there.” I hesitantly respond ok, as he reassures me, taking my hand, “Don’t worry. I am a
buon uomo, a good man.” And he laughs.
buon uomo, a good man.” And he laughs.