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Sunday, July 14, 2013

This only happens in the movies, until it happens in real life, Part Primi

Maybe my favorite souvenir of the trip, besides my tan lines and Italian leather sandals, is the story I'm about to tell.  I'd like to preface this story by disclaiming and recognizing that I acknowledge that everything about it batshit crazy but true. I couldn't make it up if I tried. This is a long story so you might as well pop some pop corn and get settled in.

One our third night in Rome we were looking for food near by the restaurant and Rick Steve's pointed us to a place that didn't have outdoor seating.  So we wondered upon a restaurant with small awnings and just one outdoor table left. We took advantage of the open table and thus began an evening, and a series of life changing events.

We were greeted by a tall dark handsome waiter (don't all good Hollywood storylines start like this?) who seated us. We were making small talk with him as he took our drink order.  We ordered a bottle of wine and some bread and he kept coming back to chat.  At some point he was really only talking to Farah which wasn't unusal because the Italians were very taken by her.  And then at some point he turns to be and apologize and say that he can't look at me because I'm so beautiful and remind him of someone that he used to know.  He told me that when I walked into the restaurant his heart stopped because he was certain I was this other person (Laberta who now lives in Canada).  He kept showering me with compliments and saying that he could just tell there was something inexplicably different in my smile and eyes.  He could just see "but no explain" it.

Well that's all nice and lovely to hear but there was also something in him that was so sweet and genuine that you just want to talk to him more.  Between times he'd walk away Farah and I would devise a plan to how we were going to hang out with him.

Meanwhile, ANOTHER waiter has been quite taken with Farah and began flirting with me to get her attention (why do men do this?).  He's untying my shoes as he walks by.  He's making googly eyes at both Farah and I.  Meanwhile I keep catching the other waiter's eye and giving a smile and a wink (hey! when in Roma).  They keep sending wine, prosecco and limoncello over to us and we are having the time of our lives because we have consumed all the beverages and have on our hands the potential for a really great night ahead of us. We've chatted with the owner, the food is amazing, the bottle of wine we ordered is maybe that best I've had in my life.

We've come to learn that the tall dark handsome one is Egyptian/Italian, 27 years old, lives just blocks from our hotel and is named Basem who regularly gets told he looks like Tony Parker.  The other waiter is a short skinny pale 34 year old Pee Wee Herman look alike who has taught us how to say "f*ck you!" in Italian, is named Andrea.

They practically beg us to wait until they close up the restaurant and we kindly oblige since we were in no hurry and it was practically closing time anyway.They finish closing up and Basem walks through the door of the restaurant exit, heads straight towards me, makes quick eye contact, puts his arms around me and plants a (very good) kiss straight on my lips.  So that happens.  And all I am thinking is "This is happening!! Well, when in Rome...."

We get into Andrea's car, Farah in the front, Basem and I in back.  Farah and Andrea proceed to have a dance party in the front, while Basem and I have a full on make out sesh in the back seat.  In a tiny car, racing through the streets of Rome, Rhianna blaring on the radio, I literally pulled away from Basem for a moment just to make eye contact and watch the speed of the moment and the world race by the periphery of my vision. While looking at his eyes, I thought to myself, this is one of those life changing moments, I could just tell.

See I told you this sounded bat shit crazy. But it is all true.

We eventually find the gelato place they were looking for, order and stroll for a little.  Basem and I are wrapped up in our own little world while kissing, holding hands, talking, eating gelato and the best wingwoman of the century is entertaining Andrea, who is a handful to say the least.  By the time we finish our gelato, Farah is DONE with trying to keep him at bay and ready to go to bed. They take us back to the hotel and while Farah heads to bed, Basem and I decide to scurry off to "talk and walk". And that's what we actually do, for hours.  We talk about life and who we are as people and lessons from our family.  His English is pretty good but we do have to spend some time trying multiple ways to translate things to get to the right point.  And my Italian is 3 days old comprising of grazie and food items so I'm pretty useless.

A break for a moment of reflection: Finding a common ground for language was super fascinating.  Defaulting to speaking in English, it was so refreshing to talk to someone in a way that I couldn't hide behind fancy words or complex sentence structures or the generally super hoity-toity way I talk.  We spoke plainly, simply, and honestly and it was so refreshing. Misinterpretations/mistranslations were funny instead of embarrassing. I was forced to take down all my walls because our conversation demanded simplicity and you can't hide behind that.  He saw right through me, called me on everything and meanwhile it all felt safe.

Commence story:  It was getting later and later and before I knew what was happening we were making out in his apartment lobby, and then in the apartment elevator, and then in his apartment door way and then he's not wearing any clothes. That was quick.  And then I freak out, like I do in general when I find myself in that situation.  He was super about it all during the freak out, very much a gentleman and walked me back to the hotel make sure I got in ok and hoped we'd come by the restaurant the next day.  I proceed to float upstairs high on endorphins and love.

People, that's just day one.

The next day we decide to stop by the restaurant after we have dinner elsewhere and get some gelato (that came as a recommendation from Basem and turned out to be the best gelato in all of the whole trip).  We swing by the restaurant and the moment he sees me we walks right up and plants a big ole kiss on my lips (keep in mind, he's working but that doesn't seem to phase him, or anyone else for that matter).  We make plans to get together after he closes the restaurant.  Later, we meet in the hotel lobby and head out for a walk and talking some more.  And that's what we actually do with just little breaks from the walking and talk to make out.  There is an ease to our conversation. There are no pretenses, there is a comfort that I feel like we've know each other forever. We talk about real things.  We talk about not real things and funny things and favorite things and everything in between. Oh we laughed...a lot.  At one point he stopped and looked me straight in the face and affirmatively and assuredly stated, prompted by nothing, "I know you are strong. I can just tell." That statement sticks out to me more today than anything else.  Knowing only a very rosy picture of my life at home, he unknowingly hit home.

We talked for hours that night and he walks me back to the hotel as we had an early train to catch.  Well, turns out our hotel attended must have fallen asleep on the job because there I was, 4 am, locked out of the hotel.  Both Basem and I are knocking, buzzing, and calling to no avail.  Of course I'm thinking to myself I'm going to have to spend the night with Basem and if that happens, other things are going to happen that I''m not ready for.  And if Farah wakes up with out me in the room she is going to freak the frick out like a good friend would do.  On top of it all I'm dying inside because he keeps repeating that he's nervous for me because the train leaves at six which with his accent sounds like "sex" and it is killing me when he says it. We have a good laugh about this and now is a running joke in our conversations (teaser: yes, we're still talking).

After a good while, the door finally opens and Basem quickly kisses me good-bye as I dash inside.  In all that rush, I didn't really have the moment to think that might be the last time I'd see him.  We hadn't exchanged information, I only knew his first name, he on other hand knew my entire name and kept repeating it. In my heart of hearts I knew it wouldn't be the last time.

But we still had 2 weeks left on our vacation and I had no plans to come back to Rome.  Yet.

Intermission.  You should refill your pop corn, grab some sour patch kids and a soda of your choice because acts 3 and 4 promise to be riveting. 


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