I pop the last olive in my mouth, rolling it across my tongue, and letting the brine wash through my mouth. My fingers smell of vinegar and chilies. I survey my dinner picnic from the shop in the city center— my ham sandwich that’s so much more than a ham sandwich: crispy, crunchy ciabatta enveloping salty proscuitto, accompanied by a smooth, creamy fondina cheese. Every bite caused my eyes to involuntarily close; I snapped them back open each time to take in every moment of the moonrise. It took me precisely two hours to eat a sandwich and olives; to rush would have been tantamount to sacrilege.
Towards the horizon, the water smoothed to a silken surface; the rose-hued clouds lined gently atop it, obscuring the border between sea and heaven. A ship silently moves west, cutting through the stillness like an ice barge. And as the sky turns to jet black ink, lightening brightens the distance like faraway bombs, but it appears their threats are impotent, for now.
The locals have adjourned for dinner; their outside chatter taken indoors. I can only hear sporadic traffic as the bay continues its hypnosis of me.
My inner ear is under the impression that I’m still bobbing in the waves. I awoke to a clear, spectacularly brilliant morning, and I opted for a final day in the ocean rather than an exhausting day trip, battling tourists and dining alone amongst the Noah’s ark of lunch-goers: two by two, two by two, me… duck, duck, goose… I returned to my beach cafe, renting another lounger. I’ve decided the owner is indeed well-meaning. We chatted a bit today; I was warmed by his kind eyes. He sent out a friend to open my umbrella so I could wait out the brief, light, afternoon shower. He brought me lunch on the beach, and always assured I was okay. Indeed, I was more than okay. I soaked up the sun until it slipped beyond the hills, and I said goodbye to him with a surprising amount of sorrow. A few hours of retrospect has led me to realize he reminded me of my late grandfather (dad’s side), if but a good foot shorter.
The lightening begins again, and I’m homesick for Texas rain storms.
Vado a Roma domani. The last leg of my journey if a few hours away. I’m sitting here on my unlit balcony, hanging over the sea, wondering how this change in me will manifest itself at home. We shall see. Very soon.