Monday, July 18, 2011

Incontro in Toscana

Last Wednesday, I left the villa we were staying at in a tiny town in Tuscany and set out on foot. I veered right at the vineyard, down a steep hill, and up again into the old half of the town. The paved road petered out eventually into a rutted dirt road, then ended at a gated villa, and I continued on a path so narrow that brambles plucked threads from my dress and scratched my legs. Finally, I came out onto another road in the slightly-less-teeny town nearby (about 25 houses over our town's 8 or so), and in front of me, sitting at the only bar in town and drinking an espresso as though it were the most natural thing in the world, was my ex-boyfriend, l'Artista.

It had been close to six years since the last time I saw him, in the fall of 2005 in England. The first few hours were surreal, in part because of how normal it felt, as though no time had passed whatsoever. I wasn't sure if I wanted to throw my arms around him or run the other way, but as the time passed we began to feel more normal around each other. Eventually, we made our way back to the villa in his little Yaris, where he got over his initial embarrassment at seeing my family again, settled into a chair next to the pool with a slice of watermelon, and chatted with my aunt, uncle and immediate family.

I wasn't sure how much I'd want to see him, but it turned out to be a lot, to try to get used to our new relationship and learn how to interact with each other non-romantically. Not that he didn't try; I politely declined his suggestion that I leave with him that evening and spend the next few days in Florence. I did make my way there as planned on the weekend, though, and on Saturday was able to realize my dream of eating a home-cooked l'Artista meal (he continues to be the best cook I have ever met). Watching the way he moves in the kitchen, how he slices vegetables, pinches salt and times everything perfectly, is mesmerizing. Unfortunately, I was so tired from waking up at 3:45 a.m. to catch the train that after a plate of pasta and a small glass of wine I conked out on his couch and missed course #2.

Last night, I came home to a clean house, a vase of flowers, and a sweet little "welcome home!" sign that Dreamy made with Crayola markers. I told him about the past few days since we had last spoken, including the plate of pasta. "You know," he said sweetly, "I could be a great cook, too, if someone would teach me."

Based on the contents of the kitchen (Honey Bunches of Oats, Alfredo sauce, sardines, and spaghetti), he's got a ways to go. Nice that he wants to try, though.