Get the truth about one of Italy’s most popular islands – and its people – by reading my new weekly blog installments (every Monday right here on this site)
Chapter Sixteen – Already, a Complicated Life
My question for Tony was simple and direct. “Are you sure this is a good idea because I’m from the United States and you’re from Italy?” His answer was the same, “Don’t worry. Keep kissing me. We’ll find a way to make it all work.” We kissed for another moment and then I returned to my office to work. He smiled for the rest of the day, but the kiss had me trembling both for its passion and the complications it would undoubtedly bring to my life.
While I wanted to believe Tony and focus on the glory of this blossoming love story, I couldn’t help but hear my gut churning. After all, months earlier a trip to Ischia’s hospital with that dang knee injury that was still plaguing me had me wishing I had never seen the place. Now, I was going to get embroiled in a romance with one of its natives? Aaaaah, but he was so cute and charming, and he seemed to genuinely like me, which was my favorite characteristic in a man back then. He did travel all the way from Italy to see me. And did I mention how cute and charming he was?
In the meantime, Roberto and my mom returned from the grocery store just in time for the boys to start preparing lunch and for my parents to head to the airport to pick up my sister Rosaria and her friend Addy. The phone rang and when I answered, there was a familiar Italian voice on the other end. It was Lisa. She was not at all happy. Roberto had not been in touch since he arrived in the States, and she wanted to know what he was doing – and with whom. I quickly had him pick up the phone. Although Tony and I couldn’t hear what was happening on the other end of the line, Roberto’s face told the story of a boyfriend in trouble with his love. If he had been back in Ischia, he’d be sleeping outside with his dog Diego (named for soccer player Maradona, of course) tonight. For much of the afternoon, he looked as if Diego had died.
Singing while cooking (still with a genuine smile stretched across his handsome face), Tony insisted that American salt had no taste and kept adding it to the pot of boiling water, ready to dump the pasta into the pot. As I finished up my work ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, I was distracted by the kiss and thoughts of being forced to live in Ischia, an island without even an MRI machine, where my kids would lack opportunities, and the people work only six months per year, a place where people really believe that a glass of ice water on a hot day will kill you. At least, I had family like Roberto there. And I made a few friends on my recent trips. Truly, I earned a college degree in the States and vowed to stay in the New York metropolitan area because it was where I belonged and where my real family – replete with parents, siblings, and cousins – either lived or often gathered. We left Ischia with good reason; Ischia made us poor, and America made us rich in more ways than just in our wallets. And I sang to myself, too: “God bless America, land that I love…”
A little while later, Rosaria and Addy, who met my sister while the two studied abroad in Italy last summer, walked into the house. After brief introductions, we sat down to eat. Suddenly, the sullen Roberto, who had just argued with his Italian girlfriend Lisa, was coming back to life. He pushed my sister aside to sit between her and all-American Addy. A dancer, Addy was long and lean and had the face of a supermodel. Blond and blue-eyed, she was the epitome of what Italian boys thought of when they dreamed of American girls. Certainly, Roberto had forgotten his earlier tiff, but I think he also had forgotten Lisa’s name…
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.