Stranger in the market
The look on a face when you purse your lips, squint your eyes, and wrinkle your nose. Slightly clench your teeth, in familiar disgust. You tense your eye brows and gently suck your cheeks in, fluidly all at the same time with no effort at all. I'm reminded of this women from seven years ago standing behind me and my future husband in the small local grocery store in our run down, old-world neighborhood. The streets there, stained with layers of overpopulated use. The stench of sewer and exhaust fumes. The absence of children, young people and foliage. Nothing green just dankness. Seemingly my story had started where hers was finally ending. She was at the end of hers and I wondered to myself if I would someday stand behind a young women in a grocery store with deep lines of bitterness on my face warning her of 20 years of, regret, sadness and desperation.
I was in the checkout line with my husband commenting on how I wanted to make shish kebabs with the long wooden sticks I found, when I heard an English voice behind me say, "Yes those are good for what you want to do". I was surprised to hear English and quickly started a friendly conversation with her wondering if she could be my first friend I make in Italy. Her reply to my question of, if she lives here in the area was, "I'm finally moving back home to England, after being here for 20 years married to an Italian man". Then she said, "My son has grown up and left home, so I'm almost officially divorced and leaving in a few weeks". The whole conversation lasted a minute but it's one of the only conversations I've ever had that replay in my head more than any other. Her manner and body language touched me so deeply. I saw anger, contempt, disgust, desperation, regret, sadness and even relief from her. This complete stranger gave me so much honesty and emotion in our exchange, that I felt saddened and happy for her all at the same time. I thought to myself I hope I don't end up like her, but in all the words she didn't say about her past 20 years here in Italy, I can clearly see it's happening to me.