Thursday, September 05, 2013

cliched but true: what a difference a year makes

Last year we walked to the bus stop, uncertain of how a bus could navigate through the traffic on the narrow streets, uncertain of where it would wait for its passengers. We were uncomfortable in the unrelenting heat, the heat that the locals claimed was unusual, the heat that we thought would never end.  The faces we passed were stony and foreign, the sidewalks crowded with cigarette smoke and hand gestures.

Last year our son stepped onto a bus in the midst of cars jockeying for position, the noise of their horns competing with the noise of sirens, the noise we didn't know, the noise of a city. We watched our son leave on the journey past the Coliseum, past Circo Massimo, past Castel Sant'Angelo. We watched him on his way to a new school in a new city in a new country on a new continent. It was terrifying.

But this year, this year we wore jackets and pants in the cool morning air, walking on a path we had traveled hundreds of times. 

And this year we said buongiorno, ciao to smiling familiar faces and pet dogs that wagged and wriggled under our hands, we thanked the neighbors who welcomed us back. Our son raced up the steps of the bus, a flash of purple hair and backpack, eager to see his friends. The bus driver greeted him by name.

On the way home we stopped at an often frequented cafe and our order was known before we placed it. The proprietor scolded me for being away from my husband this summer and asked if we had cornetti as good as hers in America.

She smiled knowingly, pleased when we told her that nothing we had even came close.

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