Look at me, walking down the street.
I have a swagger.
My swagger says that I have almost made it through winter.
I have the confidence of a woman who can almost completely avoid something disgusting and offensive on the street…with a sixth sense…without even looking down.
It is only the bandage on the back of my right heel which betrays my current nearly-successful attempt at finding just the right, practical, sturdy and awesome pair of shoes.
The sun is out. There is a soft breeze.
I am wearing my black turtleneck. My black jacket.
My awesome black sunglasses, the prescription four years out of date, framing my super pale face.
Maybe I look cool, but I cannot see clearly.
Who needs to see?
But alas, look at my swaggering into the ‘big girl’ cafeteria, handing over my 3.60 euros and asking for my regular contorni con riso, like a badass.
The tourists, you know, are coming back to town.
I have seen several of them this week. With their leather pants and big earrings and newly creased jackets, walking along the canal, marveling that there are fish there…talking about where they will go for their iconic Apertivo and how they are faring with their jet-lag…
But no one dresses like that here, really…not at this end of town. Not really anyone who has anywhere to go. Really.
One guy saying to his friend…”I can order my coffee in Italian but if they talk back to me, then I am screwed”.
I have walked this canal for months. When it was cold and rainy and foggy…and when there was ice and snow.
When it was dark…inside and out.
I have walked the cobblestones. I have slipped.
I have fallen.
I have gotten up again…and continued.
I am a cheater.
I have cheated on my dog with another country. When she figures this out, I am in real trouble. I wonder if, when I return, she will find lipstick on my collar…or if, among my things, she will detect the unmistakable perfume — of garlic.
And she will be heartbroken. She will demand carrots. She will get online and order a Barkbox subscription…and put it on my credit card instead of hers.
And she will make me sleep on the couch.
I have the superpower to be able to hide from her….for now.
I have the superpower to be able to forget everything I know in Italian…the second my teacher calls on me.
I have been frightened of my doorman for months…but now I am not.
One of my teachers told me that I will never be able to speak Italian because I married an American.
(Where, oh where, is the love?)
I haven’t quit yet. (Superpower!)
I have the unusual superpower to always drip water on the floor when I get out of the shower. In fact, I am exceptional in this way.
I have the unusual ability to cause any dog that I pass on the street to suddenly need to relieve themselves.
My gifts are truly beyond comparison.
I have the amazing superpower to continue…even when I fall…to believe that I have a superpower.
Like…it takes superpowers to continue to go forward…to continue to fight…when you have lost. When you have lost someone.
When you have lost a classroom of someones.
When you have lost a generation.
When you have lost power.
When you know, that it is time to conserve your power, when you know there is nothing you can do.
You have to just wait.
For times to change.
It takes superpowers to keep going.
It takes superpowers stay positive.
Hold your head high.
To open yourself up to criticism to those who don’t approve…or will never understand.
It takes superpowers to walk down the street with an umbrella that will no doubt turn itself inside out — in the wind…for I am specially gifted in ruining umbrellas and then ditching them at the Farmacia.
It seems — most of all — that the superpowers I want are not the ones I have.
But maybe it is enough to swagger down the street with my bandaged foot, to slip on the stones and to get up again.
I should be proud that I drip water on the floor after my shower.
That I particularly hard on shoes…and umbrellas.
It is enough to be able to get through the day and report, with confidence…that you haven’t stepped into anything disgusting on the street…while swaggering.
And not even in English.