I wish I had family in Europe. I have that travel itch again – I’d go just about anywhere right now, she said.
Well, I’m sure you’ll make your escape soon. It should be pretty cool in Rome. I might extend the trip another month to do more touring. I’d feel weird missing out, you know? he said.
Natalie does know, intellectually. She knows lots of things intellectually, processing information in logical and rational fashion, and yet, there’s an emotional undercurrent that upholds a bit more weight, that has a stronger presence.
Well, I sincerely hope you have an absolutely amazing time. I will miss you, she said.
She debated the final three words, only because she wasn’t sure how James would respond. She’s fluid with words, fluid like water. Sometimes, they flow in an easy rhythm, likened to the ocean’s ripples on a July morning, and sometimes her sentences leave a sporadic mark in its wake. Either way, she spits these words out because life is too short to be mute.
James prefers nonverbal communication; he’s sturdy, like the earth. When he does speak, he’s steady and sure and shades of pragmatism embody his speech. He’s not one to say I miss you, but he’d still show it.
The days turns into weeks as Natalie goes about her daily routine with James in the background. He carved out a nook in her mind via hazy memories they shared together or recollections from recent conversations that would last a couple of hours into the night. He’s in the background while she works on her freelance design projects, walks to the N train for her evening shift at the bistro, listens to his music – music that’s the epitome of his spirit- and gets into bed by the end of it all.
Saturday is the first day to truly capture the crux of spring; the sun casts a romantic light onto the flourishing green in Central Park. It’s an ideal afternoon for outdoor lounging, to lie down on the ground and notice the shapes of the clouds that move in slow motion. She thinks of James since he’s like the Earth and today the Earth is perfect.
Rome is hotter than James expected. And more Mediterranean than he thought. Beautiful pastel colors line the cafes that are situated within the narrow streets. Palm trees are scattered throughout this Eternal City, and he embraces the foreign nature, the allure of a place that withstood tremendous ruin.
His cousins took him under their wing and brought him to the subtle spots that may go unnoticed by tourists – an obscure joint that serves the best cappuccinos, winding roads that encompass breathtaking views, small squares that sell captivating artwork. Sometimes, it’s the little slices of life that exude the most beauty.
But today it’s Saturday, and he treks to a renowned, traditional site – The Spanish Steps. Crowds flood the vicinity and vendors are bustling with cool gelato. He selects a rich chocolate flavor and sits on one of the upper steps, absorbing his surroundings, observing the people, and surveying the sky at dusk. The chocolate starts to melt and drip down his chin, and he thinks of Natalie, and how she would love this. He’s also sure that the gelato would probably stain her white sundress; she’s clumsy that way.
He misses her, too.