exploring life and love with pictures and words

So far . . . pretty good


Not sure of the time, but I know I am calling it close. Racing down the station steps, the familiar rumble and long slow hiss of the arriving train have me picking up my pace. With seconds to spare, I politely push my way into the full car, Scusi, Scusi, secure a spot, and the doors close behind me. Immediately I grab the single handle hanging above my head before the train lurches forward, saving me the embarrassment of falling onto fellow passengers, something that occurs frequently on the crowded metros. I appear to be a veteran traveler, unless there is no handle or pole to grip. That requires my full attention; hip wide stance, toes gripping the insides of my boots, abs engaged, it’s a bit of a workout. Today I’m lucky, with my free hand I dig around in my bag for my phone to check the time. I glance up at the Red line route, two more stops.

I emerge from the underground, squinting into the bright sun, a nice change after a few days of rain. The majestic Duomo di Milano poses beautifully as the tourists take her picture, she simply doesn’t have a bad side. Realizing my appointment will take me through lunch I’ve got to quickly scarf down some food. I run the words through my head . . . Buon giorno. Vorrei un panino per favore. I duck into the first bar I see, say the words and point to the one exploding with zucchini, prosciutto, arugula and brie. I hurry past the shoppers in the Galleria, unwrap and peel back the foil and mangio il panino. It’s delicious.

Wiping my mouth with a wad of napkins, I run my tongue across my teeth and gums searching for greens stuck here and there. I so miss giving a friend a big toothy grin and saying, All good? Without a friend or a mirror, I hope for the best. The traffic lights are not in my favor, so I scan for oncoming cars, trams, scooters, bicycles and busses and bolt across the street. Even when I have plenty of time, somebody always blasts their horn. I remember how the chaotic traffic used to unnerve me. Now I take it in stride.

I enter the building, the elevator arrives on cue, and delivers me right on time. Ciao, Ciao. Io ho un appuntamento a dodici trennte. And just like that the lovely receptionist shows me to my chair in the salon. Come stai, Signora? She cheerily asks. Tutto bene, I say. The woman who colors my hair speaks no English and my Italian is still pretty skinny. I understand she has asked what I want to drink and I reply acqua minerale, naturale. She smiles and then asks if I only want my roots colored. I wish I could say I understood her, but really it was obvious as she tapped her little pointed comb on my glowing silver part. Si, si I reply, looking like a genius.

As she carefully and methodically applies the color, I silently read a book I brought with me. I wish I could carry on a conversation, ask about her family, her life. I miss my salon chats with Maria. I miss small talk and getting to know strangers. I miss the connected feeling that comes with all of that. I miss so much of home. I do my best not to get down on myself for not having made more progress with my Italian or creating any kind of social life. And then I remind myself of all I have accomplished so far. I am doing pretty well.

Hair colored, washed and conditioned. My lovely colorist combs through it, preparing my head for the capable hands of Marco who will give me a trim. He slides his stool up close to me, lifts a handful of my wet locks in the air and asks, Cosa facciamo? What are we going to do? I reply in English because I have no idea how to say it in Italiano. Just a little trim. Marco frowns. He is dying to cut off all my hair. He gives me that look that says, Geez, you’re a woman in her fifties, don’t you want something a little more sophisticated? Age appropriate? Instead he says in English, A change? I repeat, No, just a trim, a little shape.

Then he says something that would have left my old self feeling puny and small . . . Ah, You are afraid of change. . . I want to laugh out loud! Instead, I smile and in my head I say . . .

You have no idea . . .


ps: Long hair intact 🙂

9 Responses to “So far . . . pretty good”

  1. Judy Jennings-Gunther

    It must have been hard to not tell him,”you have no idea!” I love how although you are in another country you still have your normal routines like getting your hair done. You need to tell him that you can’t cut your hair. How would you make braids???


  2. Roberta D McLeod

    I love your long hair. I have tried for years to grow mine back, but can’t get past the “awkward” stage. Once it’s short, it’s hard to go back. You look terrific! Why fix what ain’t broke? 🙂 You make me want a bite of whatever that was you were eating!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Roberta Mcleod

        I read everything you send my way. I’m just not very good at stopping to comment. I have a million things to ask you about living in Italy. It is a dream of mine to visit someday since my great grandparents immigrated from Italy in the late 1800’s. I’ll tell you that story sometime. And I want to learn Italian!

        Liked by 2 people

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