If you are just jumping in here, please start with Part 1, otherwise, this will just make no sense at all! I mean, seriously… You can’t just jump into part 9 of a series, right?
September 19, 1984
I’m a month and a half into my 2nd trip to Italy in 1984. I have made some amazing friends, experienced a culture that caused me to feel more at home than, well… home. And now, this girl that I had been friends with suddenly became more than a friend.
We had just been dining at a friend’s house and found ourselves kissing passionately, but now the evening is over and I am back at Umberto’s villa. Alone. In bed. In the dark. Mind racing. Big Rocco’s words echo “What a shit!?!?”
I really need to get home in a few days and start a life, right?
How would I even have a relationship with a girl that lives 8,000 miles away.
I don’t want a quick fling. Not with her. She is different.
She’s got to be thinking the same thing. It was the wine. Tomorrow we will see each other and back-peddle what just happened, of course.
But I really, really like her. I can see this as being something real, but how?
Well, nobody has ever accused me of giving up on anything as impossible, so I am in and we will figure this out. But surely she will realize how insane this would be. I’ll see her in town, we’ll talk, and she will surely be the voice of reason. You know, I am expecting “Hey…. about last night… ummm…”
The Morning After
I wake up, and there is only one thing on my mind. Paola. OK, two things: Paola and Coffee. I get up, get coffee, get showered, get dressed and get up to town. In my mind, that entire process lasted about 12 seconds…. OK, 42 seconds. I needed to make coffee.
This is it. I will see her, and it will have been a “mistake.” But we will stay friends, of course. Blah Blah Blah. We all know how that conversation goes.
I get into town and see her come out of the door of her house. I was on the other side of the Piazza and started walking toward her ready for that ever-so-uncomfortable talk, of course.
Everything I describe here actually happened in ultra-slow motion, of course. She starts walking toward me, and I am looking at her, sizing her up, reading the body language, trying to get a sense of it all. I know what she will say, and I’ll just be cool. I mean, what else am I gonna do, right?
But dude! She’s wearing this tight leather skirt and a tight leather jacket. She is walking like a model down a runway. A spring is in her step. As she gets closer, I notice her hair. It looked like she had just had it styled, and her makeup with poppin’ red lipstick. And the most amazing, beautiful smile on her face. DAMN!
Now picture me with cartoon eyes going BOING!
As we approach each other, she quickly makes it clear to walk somewhere with her. We cross to the other side of the piazza, walk into a hallway, and as though all part of a complete flow we begin to kiss passionately.
Huh? I must have run the scenario a thousand times in my head, and not one of them went like that. Dude! I can roll with this!
Now what? I honestly have no idea, but I have a call to make!
Mrs. TWA Airlines Lady, it’s Michael again
Seriously, I had extended this trip so many times that I was starting to think the airline knew me. I may be the very reason airlines started initiating ticket rescheduling fees.
“No, I don’t have a return date at the moment, but I will call back when I do”
The Next Few Weeks Were a Blur
Seriously, I am floating in heaven, and that is not me!!!! For one thing, there is a girl back home that thinks she is my girlfriend (Annabelle, I am so sorry I was such an ass!!!!), and if you read earlier in this story, I do not want relationships! I was the guy that gave you a fake phone number after a one-nighter. But Paola… she was a lightning bolt of energy in my life. I have never met anyone like her.
So the next few weeks looked like a romantic montage of a couple in frolicking around Tuscany, and the more I was with her, the more I wanted to be with her. This was different. This is what they mean when they say “when you know, you know.”
This girl was real. I can’t put my fingers on exactly what it was, but we talked about everything, and she had a set of values that I had just never seen in a girl before. I could be myself. I could be happy.
Again, if you have read this whole series, you know I come from a very fast paced life, lots of money, and a fair amount of tragedy. I was a mess. But all this time I had spent in Italy gave me a peek into something entirely different. Such real people, such a rich lifestyle through the greatest simplicity. It felt as though this is who I was, and I had somehow been trapped in the wrong life. Then Paola becomes an intimate part of this life, and I am, for the first time, seeing what just might be en entirely different future for me. I am realizing a kind of joy I had never experienced, and I was drawn to it like a bug to light.
And that is where I will end this post in the series. The next one will be titled “Paola Meets the Megalopolis”
Until then, please post your thoughts, comments and questions below. I love reading them!