Weeks ago, before we arrived, I was talking to someone about our upcoming adventure.
“You know”, she told me, “my friends S and D did this a few years ago. They were just like honeymooners”.
Later that day I was talking to R. I told him what she had said. “Guess what?”, I said. “We might be like honeymooners!”.
”yeah”, he said. “Like honeymooners with bad backs.”
I have to admit this just poured all manner of cold water on my optimism…but optimism I continued to try to muster. Amidst the onslaught of feeling I described in This Piece, there was this background narrative, this video playing in my head…entitled “Honeymooners with bad backs”.
Let me first say that the ‘bad back’ thing we have had as continuing challenges — with continuing modalities to mitigate such challenges…but you know…although we are not spring chickens…as I have mentioned previously, we are autumn chickens. Maybe we are September chickens…(okay, maybe mid-September chickens) and we don’t always want to admit such things.
As honeymooners, we explored, we ate, we laughed, we tasted wine, we rested.
We did other stuff.
Here…we walk. We explore. Then we nap. (I guess we are processing so much new information our brains need to rest. And maybe also our backs.)
We hold hands over the clothes-drying rack which fills our living room.
We have eaten one or two things. We did purchase a bottle of wine at the grocery store (yes, that was us holding hands in the pasta aisle) — but it remains unopened on the shelf.
Every morning, during breakfast, we look at each other with tired but googly eyes (hey! I learned the italian verb: flirtare. It’s real.) as we take our vitamins. Something for joint pain, something for strength, stamina. Something for post-menopause (sigh).
We laugh about it.
We have been leaving the apartment around the same time. He to work and I, first to walk him to work and explore — and now to school. We hold hands on the street. He would say, mostly, it is because I slip on the cobblestones and he doesn’t want me to fall.
Hey, not wanting me to fall. That’s romantic! That’s a thing!
We had dinner with another expat couple last week. They asked us what we do at night.
Uhhhhhhh. (I said, jokingly, that it was none of their business…ahem….)
On Sunday we went to an amazing multimedia Chagall show. Color and movement and music completely surrounding. When we walked in, I was so overwhelmed with the beauty that I began to cry.
He put his arm around me.
We walked the city for hours afterward…and by the time we got home, he had developed a fever. He was down for the count.
So there was soup and tea and he was basically unconscious for the next couple of days. But me making soup…that was love. And tea…love. And applesauce…love.
Different kinds of expressions of love than when we married thirty years ago (next month). But love nonetheless.
I used to joke that when the children were babies and we would get out for dates (not super often, as it happened), we would always stop at the grocery store before going home to the babysitter and sleeping children. That would be us — holding hands in the produce aisle. We did what we could. We always anticipated that our lives would have mess and laundry and distraction…I don’t know why but we never really expected champagne. Not a lot of it…
But we did have champagne before his knee replacement and my melanoma surgery —- but also when he got tenure.
And perhaps we will open a bottle of prosecco when we figure out our bidè.
It was super romantic when, past midnight, our son called because he had stomach pain from ingesting too much hot sauce — from five thousand miles away. I snuggled close to R, whispering in his ear — “darling”, I cooed, “Should he go to urgent care”? In his most loving tone, he said “No way. Tell him to get some Tums and Pepto Bismol. Tell him to get the pink stuff.”
But you know, pink is the color of romance.
It is romantic to build a home together…in family-student housing in L.A., in St. Louis, in Atlanta, in Madison and now, for awhile in Milan. Romantic to joke about the teeny shower, to carry groceries up to the apartment, to try to figure out why the electricity has gone out — again — and to make baci di dama cookies on teeny cookie sheets in a teeny oven.
It is romantic to remember that your partner hardly ever gets sick…and when they do, to make tea and soup and applesauce. It is romantic to go to a new place together, even when it is scary…and to hold hands as you walk in the canals…looking at the graffiti.
Romantic even — to lay in bed at night — and hear shouting and screaming in your neighborhood…when the team of your temporary home misses their chance to be in the World Cup — for the first time since 1958.
Ok. So maybe we are not exactly like honeymooners…or maybe even honeymooners with bad backs…but we share those stories.
And maybe one day soon….that bottle of wine.
And this — a gift for you from my teacher, Rb: Eccolo!!!!