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Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Between love and lost

If you’ve been following the Chronicles for the last three weeks you’ll know that I’ve been posting a free chapter a week for four weeks as part of an ongoing promotional campaign for my book  Any Color but Beige.

Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. And I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

Exotic Colors is this week’s section, from which I selected the chapter called Chapter 24 It deals with heartbreak and healing. And it was from this painful experience that my book Any Color but Beige came to be. My editor likes to say the best stories break your heart. And she’s right.

photo: © istockphoto.com/VladLo

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I never meet interesting men on planes. Given all the flying I do, you would think the odds would be in my favor. But it seems there’s a cosmic conspiracy to keep me uncoupled and out of trouble, at least while I’m in the air. In hundreds of thousands of miles logged on various airlines I only met one intriguing man. That was a long time ago, and I must confess that I treated him rather carelessly. I lost him, and the universe has been repaying  my ingratitude for its gift ever since. Until this past weekend, that is.

The Monday morning flight from Trieste to Munich was filled with predominantly male business travelers. As most of them have little or no manners when it comes to female passengers I didn’t hold out much hope this flight would be any different from the other commuter flights I’ve taken over the years.

I waited until the very end to board. I could see my row and the aisle seat was already occupied by a man who looked like just another Monday morning commuter. I bent down and politely indicated that I had the window seat.

“It’s okay, I’ll move,” he said.

“No really, I can sit there,” I said. He was tall and probably wouldn’t have been comfortable in the window seat.

He slid over any way. Very nice, I thought. I made a note to myself. “Must remember not to generalize.”

On the flight out one hears all manner of languages and accents — Dutch, German, French, Swedish, heavily accented English and, of course, Italian. As luck would have it – my gentleman was Italian. And he was the whole package, tall, dark, and handsome. For once the universe surprised me with pleasant view both inside and outside of the plane. I stole glances at him as we crossed the Alps. He folded up the newspaper he was reading to give me a better view, and our conversation started.

The depth and breadth of his conversation amazed me. He was well read, well-traveled and well educated in the social skills department. We talked for an hour and didn’t realize we’d landed until the flight attendant asked us to leave the plane. We both agreed to stay in our seats until everyone deplaned. This way we could avoid the crush. Besides the transfer bus for the terminal couldn’t leave without us.

As the last people on the bus, we squeezed into the crowded back end. I held my purse and my briefcase in one hand and a pole for support in the other. I had all of the weight on one side of my body and felt off balance. He towered over me as I stood to face him and continue our conversation.

He smelled good, like English soap and fresh air. His breath was sweet. As the bus turned a corner, I lost my balance. He put his free arm around the back of my waist to steady me as he pulled me slightly toward him. He apologized for being so forward, but I assured him that the alternative, me falling, was worse. It was the most gallant of gestures.

I lost my balance, and he steadied me, two more times on the way to the terminal. Please don’t let go, I thought. But the bus stopped and he had to let go. It was the shortest bus ride of my life. As we said goodbye, I reflected that I may not have fallen, but I certainly did lose my balance, at least for a little while.

photo: © istockphoto.com/TerryJ

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But that doesn’t mean I’ve run out of travel destinations.  Look for posts from the road in January from the UK, Germany, Italy and Las Vegas. And although Vegas may not be its own country like the others, it is somewhat of a wonderland.  My goal is one post for every passport stamp.

If you want to suggest headlines for each destination or travel in general, I’d be happy to have a go at creating a post around it.  Just leave me a comment.  In the meantime, here’s a little something to inspire you.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller

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Do you ever get that feeling that something special is going to happen? You’re going somewhere new or different and you just know that someone or something is out there waiting for you. There’s a pervasive feeling of anticipation. It inhabits your pores. Your nerve endings are on high alert and you’re paying close attention so as not to miss it. (Whatever it happens to be.)

That was exactly the feeling I had in Italy last year. Logically, I knew that I would experience lots of new things: Eating – that’s a given. Praying – well everyone knows God lives in Italy; just look at the real estate. Finally – love. It was the anticipation of falling in love – if only temporarily – that had me juiced from the get go.

Would it really happen? Who would it be with? Where would I meet him? What would we do? Where would we go?

Someone once told me that, in Italy, falling in love is a national pastime, much like soccer.  And over the years I had discovered that to be true.

Italian men and women use terms of endearment with abandon. I’d experienced the same thing myself via harmless little social encounters that made me feel that much more desirable even when I was in a relationship.

Ciao Caro! (Hello my dear)

Grazie Tesora (Thank you treasure) 

Salve Bellezza (Hello Beauty)

These expressions and many others just like them awaited me on daily basis at the butcher’s, the newsstand, and  the local coffee bar.  When I’d drop by for a cappu in b, which is short for cappuccino in bicchiere, or cappuccino in a glass, the owner would greet me with his customary, “Ciò che un bel fiore.” (What a beautiful flower!) Like many Italian men, he was so hot you could use him to boil water. I ask you, how could you not fall in love?

And then there are those other times when I came across someone so totally unexpected I would wonder if my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.

That was the case one evening after taking a dance class a local  studio. I had just spent an hour and half learning how to do the Mambo Triestino – a sort of local version of salsa – when students  in the class invited me out to dinner at the local pizzeria.

Fearless as ever, I went along and ended up making conversation in a mixture of English, Italian, French and a bunch of words I must have just made up for the occasion because I had my little party in stitches. By eleven o’clock, I was done and started my walk back to the hotel. To do so, I had to cross one of the most beautiful squares in Italy: the Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia, or the Piazza Unita for short.

The bars along the square were crowded with locals talking and socializing. Partygoers spilled out from the bars and onto the street. They milled about small cocktail tables enjoying their smokes in the crisp night air. The energy of the place made me smile to myself. And that smile didn’t go unnoticed.

I looked up in time to see a young man in his 20s dressed as a Franciscan monk approaching me. A brown robe hung on his thin frame; the white, knotted belt was there merely for decoration. He had a mass of brown curls that framed his face like a halo, and he was swaying slightly. Too much altar wine?

He reminded me of a slightly drunken cherub, who, after celebrating too much, had fallen off of a cloud and landed right in the center of the square. But my cherub was no angel. He had one of those drinking mechanisms that you see at major sporting events strapped to his back with a long tube like straw tucked neatly under his belt. Ah, so the belt did serve a purpose.

Behind him I saw a group of his friends encouraging him. “Vai, Vai!” they said. And so he approached me with a beatific smile. I thought it was all some Italian version of a bachelor party, so I waited to see what he wanted. He started to explain something very sweetly, in Italian, and I didn’t understand what he was saying.

“Ah darlin’,” I said, “I’m afraid you got the wrong girl tonight. “Parlo un po d’Italiano ma non molto bene.” (I had run out of words – well at least the Italian ones – at the restaurant.) He quickly switched to English and began his speech again.

His name was Angelo (appropriate), and he was in the Piazza that night collecting kisses from beautiful women because he just passed his bar exam. He was studying law at the University of Trieste.  And he wanted to know was if I would kiss him.

Kiss him? Kiss him?

Angel with green leaves isolated

 “Certo caro,” I said. “How could I not kiss an angel?”

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Fabian19

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