It feels like an hour passes before he makes his second bold move. He reaches up and touches my hair, I feel my entire body tense. He smiles at my reaction and remarks in half-English half-Italian: “Io…. like….. capelli rossi!”. (translation) “I like red hair!” He seems oddly fascinated by my hair, I can’t tell if it’s because of the conditioner or the fact he has never been on a date with a foreigner, let alone a red-headed one. With every calming stroke of my highly conditioned hair, I eventually relax and allow him to share his personal story. In four weeks it will be his fortieth birthday. He reaches into his pocket, retrieves his cell phone, and introduces me to his life through pictures. His smile grows tender as he looks at a picture of his niece, who is clearly the light of his life. The next photo was taken with his father & brother on a recent skiing vacation. I thank him for sharing his family memories understanding their significance to him.
As our eyes lock, and he holds my gaze the intoxicating scent of Jasmine surrounds us. He brushes the hair from my face, my greasy hair day all but forgotten. Lost in the romance and not wishing the spell to be broken, I enjoy this moment while still holding steadfast to my first date rule, I have no intention of contributing further to Piazzale Michelangelo’s famed reputation of melting the will of even the strongest of women. On the other hand a little voice in the back of my mind is gaining strength asking me “what’s the harm of a little kiss anyway?” YES-NO-YES-NO… damn this city, this Piazzale, how is a woman expected to resist, with this view, the Jasmine, the gentle unhurried afternoon.
We sit quietly as the sun warms our arms and faces. He’s wearing a light sweater & jeans in contrast to my cotton dress and sandals. Is seems Florentines rarely dress in the casual fashion we North Americans adopt once the Italian sun heats the hills of Tuscany. His hand caresses my shoulder for what seems like an eternity as I watch the light reflecting off the Duomo in the distance. The imaginary dance between us becomes an old-fasion waltz and I’m lost in a vision of Floriten life of a century ago. How many lovers have sat on this very spot with their wicker picnic baskets and white parasols, admiring the awe inspiring view of Florence? The silence between us is comfortable, inviting and natural.
Raising his hand to my cheek he gently angles my face towards his. Tenderly tracing my lips with his finger he raises my chin with one seamless movement……My resolve evaporates and is carried away on the breeze that cools my neck on this perfect spring day.
Arrrggghhhh what the hell Shauna, you’re in Italy! Go on, kiss the adorable Italian!
I’ll leave the rest to your imagination…..
By chance, were you wondering how I discover once and for all if his name is Riccardo or Alessandro? I could blame the conditioner or the view or the intoxicating scent of Jasmine in the air, or simply being caught up in the moment. The fact is I whispered the wrong name into his ear that afternoon. You may well ask why I even attempted it? I have no answer to that question. After an awkward explanation, and an emphatic apology, Riccardo smiles a charming smile, and forgives my blunder. As we walked home, shared laughter rang out, arms intwined, and secure in the knowledge that tomorrow brings a new day. Our journey begins…continues…unfolds.