This is part 4 of ‘New Beginnings’, if you need to catch up before reading: click here.
Two more dates this week, between shifts of shovelling caffeine into the mouths of greedy tourists with drooping bags of tiredness beneath their eyes. Obviously most of them do so much sightseeing that they forget to sleep. I stayed with Alli for a couple of days since I last wrote, but he turned out to be an incredibly irritating person to live with. I had hoped he’d get me away from Bianca but he’s worse. He natters away to me in Italian, way to quickly for me to have any idea what he’s dribbling on about and then gets mad when I don’t understand and ask him to repeat himself. I repeat in Inglese? You stupido or only sordo? I know that word well now, sordo, no I’m not bloody deaf you intolerable man. I haven’t seen him since I left his flat when he went to work 2 days ago.
When I got home I nearly called Rob, I miss his reliability. In my near month of living in this new place with new and unreliable people I’m beginning to miss his predictability and familiarity.My mum too, I called her yesterday. Had to. That woman is the most beautiful human on the planet. I may have taken her for granted and got bored of her weekly dinners but what I wouldn’t give for a Sunday roast with the parents right now. She wasn’t even annoyed that I hadn’t spoken to her in weeks, she was all how is it? Is it brilliant? Tell me everything! So I did. We spoke for a good hour and a half. We’ve arranged another chat next week but I’m not sure I’ll stay. I emailed them about that job tutoring kids in languages and they’ve offered me an interview.
I called Rob. In a desperate act of maintaining my disinterest I deliberately called when I could rely upon him to be eating his dinner and listening to some of his favourite music with a glass of Rioja. He still answered though. Seemed surprised but pleased I think. Said he was glad to hear from me, asked about my trip, told me briefly about his life. He retold my mum’s story of his visit to drop my stuff off at her house. Said my parents looked well. Apparently the old lady next door had moved into a nursing home and a young couple had moved in. He’d taken them a bottle of red and introduced himself (probably with one of his weak handshakes) but they hadn’t been happy to see him. Said they hadn’t moved here to make friends and he’d returned with the bottle to his (empty) flat. He’d started to say ‘our flat’ but quickly corrected himself sounding worried.
I accepted the interview. Called Mags first, she’s going to lend me a suit because I’ve not worn one in years and don’t want to pay for extra luggage on the way back. I’ve given Bianca notice, told work I’m leaving, I didn’t say bye to anyone else. Mum screamed when I called her, offered to get dad to pick me up from the airport which he agreed to, failing to hide the smile from his voice on the phone. I fly back tomorrow! Tonight I’m taking one final walk along the Ponte Vecchio to watch the sun set over the old stonework of the city.
I got the job! I start next week, maybe doing something that I’m interested in will help everything to run more smoothly. Mum says maybe I didn’t need such a drastic change but Mags said people always need change and it probably made me realise how much I’d miss her if I left for good. I laughed. She’s right though, leaving these people I’d loved reminded me how much I love them. Dinners at the parents might always be the same but they’re easy and full of love. Mags may be slightly insane and so familiar that she’s blended into the background of the city but she’s my best friend. No one in Italy, or anywhere else, even came close to knowing all of my little secrets and habits. To being allowed to laugh at my stupid comments and telling me openly when I look a state.
I saw Rob yesterday. We went for coffee at an old favourite shop of ours. As I fell back into the rickety faded wood of the chair and inhaled the scent of freshly brewed coffee and old paper drifting from the books lining the walls I couldn’t help but feel at home. Rob set two mugs carefully down on our table. His black, two sugars. Mine a latte, none. One chocolate muffin to share, he sliced it in half. The standard routine wrapped around me like a blanket. Palpably warm. He smiled at me. The smile I knew so well from years of loving him and being loved in return. Reliable love. One that stayed the same through all these years and hadn’t been altered in my absence and failures.
I thought to myself then, perhaps the same things aren’t boring. They’re just as beautiful as the new sights I so admired upon my arrival in Florence. The sight of him just as entrancing as the music at night on the beautiful bridge as the sun set. The old things made new again by a new appreciation. A renewed love.