POSTCARD: Flirting with Italy

BOLOGNA, Italy—“American girls, I have not talked to one in so long,” started off the dark-haired, clear-eyed Italian boy standing across from me.

“But most of the girls I talked to…they are not like you. They are….I don’t know….fat. Why are you not?”

Mm, interesting line.

I had been standing at a party in a field half an hour outside Bologna’s city center for about three hours and I was not really feeling it at this point.

But Filippo did not give up. Pointing out his red car in one corner of the field, he told me, “the backseat is so big, the girls, they uh make love.”

Blank looks from me. His first line was bad, but this was just a cheap cliché.

“No, like, it is so big and nice and they really love that…The car,” he tried to clarify.

More than 24 hours having passed since my 2 am wake up call earlier that day to catch a cheap but inconveniently early flight from London, I was too grumpy to enjoy what was undeniably hilarious.

But flying back to my internship in London, I realized that may have actually been one of the better moments of the weekend, which I had planned to be a reminiscent trip back to the city where I studied abroad last fall.

A few weeks earlier, I had booked my Ryanair flight back to Italy, with thoughts of returning to all my familiar favorites dancing through my head: gelato on via Funivia, an aperitivo at Byblos 2, pizza from La Mela, a walk through Piazza Maggiore and down via Zamboni.

From my first day landing in London, it had felt strange to be living in Europe but nowhere near the one European city that felt like home.

But upon my return I found that my friend Martin who I was staying with had acquired a transformative haircut, his apartment was in a part of Bologna I had never even seen before, and while his friends were fun, I didn’t know them. With my Italian seven months out of practice, I couldn’t keep up with their fast-paced conversations full of gossip about more people I had never met.

I felt silly dragging Martin and his friends around to all my old haunts so instead we ended up spending Friday night at some kind of benefit party in a field amongst Bologna’s hills. Aside from Filippo, the crowning jewel was a band of young Italians singing everything from semi-decent covers of the Black Eyed Peas to failed attempts at Madonna. And while it was an experience, it didn’t feel anything like home.

The weekend was another reminder of a lesson I have learned so many times before: just because something was good, that doesn’t mean you can or should try to recreate it. Maybe especially because something was good.

Next time, I’ll have to enjoy Filippo’s faltering flirting more.