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Chapter Eighteen – Primo Appuntamento (First Date)
The day after Thanksgiving, my sister and I brought Addy and the boys to New York. We would spend the morning together in midtown. In the afternoon, Addy, Roberto, and my sister would go one way in Chinatown, and Tony and I would have our first official date at Caffe Napoli in Little Italy. Granted, Little Italy in New York is not as authentic as it once was. I warned Tony of this. Still, he wanted to see the New York version of his homeland and talk one-on-one with me. He said being together – alone – was more important than where we were anyway.
Much to my surprise, when we sat down for the date, after ordering, Tony gently picked up my hand from across the table. He looked me right in the eye with those green saucers of his and launched into a serious conversation, which was something I had never seen from this jokester. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t taken aback. Taking a deep breath to start, he said he wanted nothing more than to be in a committed, monogamous relationship with me. He noted that it would be hard because my life was in the United States and his was in Ischia, but that he already felt an extraordinary bond and attachment with me that built up over the months we communicated online and on the phone since we first met. For him, things had only intensified since we’d been together for the last week in the States. And he said the love that was growing between us would help us find a way to make the long-distance relationship work.
I expressed my growing feelings for him, but also mentioned how scared I was at the prospect of this crazy cross-continent romance. I added that even if we stopped dead in our tracks now – after just one kiss – I would be heartbroken. Also, I realized (and told him, which I probably should not have done) that no one – not even one of the guys in college who supposedly crushed on me or vice versa – ever paid me this much attention or doted on me quite as much as he did.
Tony agreed that he’d be devastated if we tried to go back to being friends. So, we decided we were going to give this a shot. He squeezed my hand and then fed me some gnocchi, which we both devoured with glee. When we left the restaurant, Tony, who was rather reserved in public, insisted on sealing our deal with another kiss. This one was far more innocent and sweet than the first. He held my hand and we headed for home, where we’d meet up with everyone else.
When we walked in the door of my house that night, we entered hand in hand, as a couple, for the firs time. The butterflies were zooming in my stomach. But I wasn’t sure if it was from my hopeless adoration of Tony and this growing love we spoke of or the thought of losing my American dream – and my family – to be with this native Italian charmer.
Some names and identifying characteristics of the real people involved have been changed.
Tune into this Web site, Two Worlds, every Monday for the latest installment in my blog about my experiences in Ischia, and every other Monday to ItaliansRus.com for the latest Our Paesani column about all things Italian. Di Meglio is also the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com.