Summer in Tuscany
They were only going to stay in Italy for four days, but in this moment, she only cared about today. Today, Kelly and Kamal were going on a tour of Tuscany. Kelly literally sprang out of bed that morning and only by a miracle landed on both feet. Elation zoomed through her body as she dressed for the day.
“I have been wanting to visit Italy my whole life and here we are!” she said to Kamal. “And Tuscany? I have only ever dreamed about!”
“And talked about it,” Kamal added with a playful smile, “Don’t forget how much you talked about it.”
Kelly thinned her eyes and tilted her head towards Kamal. He was not wrong, though. Three months earlier when Kelly suggested they go to Italy, Kamal’s response of “maybe” was not good enough. Kelly tends to obsess over things. So, staying true to her character, that is what she did. She was almost certain he said “yes” just to shut her up because he did not share this same passion of hers.
“You know how grateful I am that we are here, right?”
“I do,” Kamal said as he leaned over to kiss her forehead.
She didn’t care that their trip was only four days, either, because that’s what they were able to do with just three months’ notice; that’s what they could afford, that’s what they could plan, and that’s the only amount of crazy Kamal was willing to allow. Amidst her many persuasive speeches for why they should go, she told her husband this trip would be life changing. He thinks she is hyperbolic by nature but, in this moment, it felt true. It felt genuine.
Kelly thought about the events that led to this moment as she sat in the thankfully air-conditioned bus. You could not peel her face from that window with a spatula. The only time she diverted her attention away from the window was to turn to Kamal and say, “Thank you.”
Having only seen pictures, she was not sure what to expect. Because of this, she treasured every moment. Stepping off the bus, she savored every step.
“Breathe in the Tuscany air,” she told herself. “Feel the Italian pavement.”
She giggled a little as if they were somehow special. As if walking up a steep paved hill in ninety-degree weather with the sun beating down on them was in any way different from Florida in August. Yet, it was. And, as she reached the top of the hill, with a gasp of fresh air, the pictures came to life.
“Welcome to Montelpuciano!” The guide said cheerfully in her Australian accent.
Kamal and Kelly grabbed hands tightly, made eye contact, and greeted each other with an incomparable smile; incomparable to any other type of happiness Kelly had ever felt. She took one step forward and could feel the uneven cobblestone press on the ball of her heel, creep up the arch of her foot, and say goodbye to her toes as they moved onto the next. Each step was different.
“Up we go!” the guide said.
“Because the amount of “up” we did already wasn’t enough?” Kamal questioned out loud.
Each turn they made was exactly as Kelly had imagined.
“My eyes don’t know which way to look,” she said to Kamal.
Vines crept up from the base of the cobblestone path along the side of each building and ever so delicately made their way around each window cavity. They hung along the rooftops from one building to another, connecting them all as one.
The next turn engaged their other senses. Bakeries and pasta shops lined the streets along with the associated aromas of each. The warmth from the freshly baked bread was like a welcoming hug from a family member who infrequently visits. The smells tickled Kamal’s nose and told his taste buds that he wanted some.
“Is lunch included with this tour?”
“Yes, honey,” Kelly responded, “They will feed you.” She loved her husband but was beginning to get frustrated that he was being so nonchalant.
“What is so amazing about this place?” she wondered, “Why am I so entranced by my surroundings?” But then, the guide promised something amazing and her mind went blank to all things except this promise. One more left and a right. Then, up another hill. “Look to your left.” We followed these directions carefully.
They saw blue; a dark blue, a light blue, a bright blue smudged with some white. Previously, narrow alleyways and tall stone buildings had consumed their vision. And now, there was blue. Kelly looked at her husband with a grin before they both began to almost gallop towards the blue. It was not a frantic run amidst the calm of the town however, it was faster than walk, due to Kelly’s excitement.
When they reached the edge of the town it was as if time seemed to stop. The tight narrow passages opened in the grandest of ways. Suddenly, at the top of this hilltop village, everything was flat. It felt as though they were in a pre-Columbus time and had reached the edge of the Earth. Overwhelmed by the sights, they started on the left.
The rich green trees stood tall and proud, high up into the blue. The Summer season made them lush. Just a cluster of them lived together on the side of a surely ancient church. The steeple reached high in the sky as if competing with the trees; the church won. As they moved their sights towards the middle, the view below seemed to open, much like where they stood atop Montelpuciano. The hills rolled for miles. The only thing interrupting these views were the bales of hay that looked placed there by a painter seeking balance in their art. Just below them to their right, sat the steep cobblestone paths they took to arrive here. For the first time since leaving the bus, they felt cool air. The open plaza allowed the wind to swirl through its inhabitants.
They stood for a moment. Kelly closed her eyes and allowed herself to give thanks for this moment. This was odd for her considering the behavior seemed religious or spiritual and she was not. That moment, a moment Kelly will never forget, though Kamal probably already had, she achieved a level of happiness she did not know was possible. She wiped the tears from her face and continued exploring.