One thing I wrestle with when writing this blog is how much personal stuff I feel comfortable disclosing. So far, I've pretty much laid it all out there. But with Paolo, for some reason it is different. Almost like if I talk about it too much I will break the spell. But, I've gotten some emails lately asking about my slacking on blogging, so I will do my best to report about my time in Lecce.
I think I left off after Paolo's birthday party. I began to feel better the following day, and it was a good thing because his great-aunt came over to the villa for a proper Italian lunch. The lunch began with pasta (a type that is specific to the region-Salento), which was fabulous. Then came the meat... they kept telling me was horse, but I still think it was beef and we were mixing up the translation (at least that is what I keep telling myself...because it tasted an awful lot like potroast, and I don't like thinking that I could have actually injested horse meat). Next was the fish that his brother had caught the day before. Then the fruit. Then the cake. Then the coffee and grappa. I thought he was going to need a wheelbarrow to roll me out of the dining room when we were finished. How are they all not morbidly obese? Lunch took close to 3 hours...which is necessary for that amount of food to digest. If someone had to return to work immediately after a lunch like that, productivity would be at an all time low. His aunt was adorable. She spoke as much English as I do Italiano (NONE) but I think she thought if she spoke louder and louder I would suddenly begin to understand. This unfortunately was not the case.
Most days, Paolo would go into work from 8 until about 1, and I would study, sleep (I was still feeling pretty crappy) and then he'd spend the rest of the day with me. Often we would go to the sea, where the biologist in him would come out. Instead of beaches, usually we would go to rocky (as in boulders) areas with crystal clear, very deep water. We'd be swimming and he would dive down, pick up some kind of sea creature and give me a lesson. At night we'd usually go to explore the nearby towns and cities and he would walk me around the squares, showing me beautiful old churches, castles, shops, restraunts, etc.
We had such a good time together. He really is a neat man. He is the type of guy that makes everyone smile. He talks to everyone...and althought I do not know what is being said, they always wind up laughing. I love that. He is interested in my studies and we have great conversations about the chapters I am reading. He is very in tune with how I am feeling (rare for a man) so if he could tell I was exhausted from being sick, or overwhelmed by being surrounded by people I cannot communicate with, he would change the situation to ensure I was comfortable. The language barrier was sometimes hard, because when we were both tired, it was hard to constantly focus on speaking. You do not realize how draining it can be to have to think about each word that comes out of your mouth. And I'm sure it was twice as exhausting for him becuas ea lot of the times he doesn't know the words he is looking for.
Once in a while I would get frustrated because I cannot communicate with anyone. For instance, I bought his mother a small gift to thank them for having me at their villa. I felt so silly when I gave it to her, because all I could do was hand it to her, smile, and say "grazie" while Paolo told her how appreciative I was. I wanted to be able to talk and joke with his friends without him having to stop the conversation to explain everything to me. But, he would always comment on how he appreciated how I handled the situation, so again, he recognized that it was difficult, and that alone meant the world to me.
I think sometimes in relationships we tend to over-talk (at least I do) and with this situation that is definitely not the case. It's really amazing what other type of connection you build when you do not solely rely on verbal communication but also body language and intuition. There are times when I feel like we were reading each others minds...
Watching him interact with his family, his little cousins, his friends, even waiters or the coffee shop workers made me like him even more. He is genuine, caring, funny, smart...I could keep going. But, like I mentioned earlier, some things I would rather keep to myself...and I don't want to jinx it.
As for the future...who knows. All we can do is take it step by step. Which is a big breakthrough for me. I used to NEED to know that everything was going to work out and be ok. Now, I know that no matter what I will be ok...and that gives me the ability to explore this situation wholeheartedly without fear taking over. He and I are going to Morocco by ourselves, and then to Spain for a week before I meet Tiffany in Ghana. I am really looking forward to traveling with him, because you learn a lot about a person when they are taken out of their comfort zone. It should be good...
But, before that I have 2 finals to finish by July 27th...ugh. So I apologize if I am not as good at blogging. I am spending so much time in front of the computer that its hard to motivate myself to stay any longer than absolutely necessary. I am now in Viareggio, a beautiful coastal town almost directly east of Florence. I'm here with Tiffany, and it's so great to see her again. I think I needed a break from the intensity of being with Paolo so much, and also to be able to speak English at a normal pace, using my full vocabulary. :)
Oh, and speaking of vocabularly, and Paolo thinks my thesis should be on why people retain "bad words" in other languages quicker than any other words. It is so true. I can barely remember how to say hello, but I can swear with the best of them. Why is that? Psychology friends-- thoughts?