Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vita Italiana - Famiglia

The first year. 

I walked out onto my front porch to let Heidi out.  I’d been sitting in the office again trying to muster up the inspiration to write something.  I was just starting to look at my laptop with that loving gaze that a writer gets when her machine of evil becomes that again of pure life when that unmistakable exaggerated sigh broke through.  This is something she’s mastered, the ability to breathe loudly enough to actually wake me in the middle of the night, if need be. 

There was some sort of party two houses down today; I’m thinking a birthday party because of all the pink balloons I could see through the shrubbery that separates us.  Earlier I could smell food being cooked, I could hear them talking like Italians tend to talk when in groups – loud, quite animated – with children’s shrieks thrown in for seasoning.  By the time I let Heidi out the party had moved inside, but their voices were still very much a presence on my front porch.  Their voices were actually strangely comforting as they joined together to sing, “I just called to say I love you.”  I stood in some kind of confused curiosity in the dark and stared at the house, the parts I could see, listening to them sing with lovely Italian accents, pausing to laugh, but carrying this old American song (old to me at 24) all the way through to its end.  Almost as soon as the song ended, they broke into “New York, New York” in the same fashion, and I laughed, standing alone on my porch.  I walked inside to unplug my laptop, suddenly feeling the pull of it to record this moment, something I’ve not felt much for the past 6 months or so.  By the time I got back outside they were into a little Sinatra with “My Way.”  I sat in the dark of my porch in front of the open door and sang along for a little while, and more exuberantly when they got to “We are the champions.” 

I sat tapping my foot and actually smiling, not really sure why.  Hearing English out and around, unless I’m on post, is always a little strange, and lends itself to uncontrollable eavesdropping.  Maybe it was because I found a little piece of home in their voices, the voices of what were probably those of family and close friends, something I miss very much here.  When I can hear Joe and Daiva upstairs yelling to one another across the apartment, or out on their front porch which hangs over mine, there’s a comfort in hearing the language I speak spoken, but it was a different kind of comfort listening to the singing this night down the street.  Family.  I miss that.  My family was never really the type to gather around and sing, but it’s something that reminds me of them, just the same.  People together, enjoying and annoying each other.   

Sadly, the singing portion of the evening would be the closer, and soon after the final note of that ever-popular Queen song faded out from their lungs, the goodbyes began, a few children cried again and car doors slammed and off they went.

I was left sitting in the dark, in the silence that seems to grow heaviest right after something like a party ends.  All of a sudden, it felt so incredibly lonely on my front porch, and the rustling in the bushes and weird screaming thing coming from the direction of the woods didn’t really help.  My moment was over; it was time to go in, so I wiggled my left foot awake and got up from the dirty floor, calling Heidi to follow.  The party was over, but it sounded like a nice time.  I was glad I’d been able to attend two doors down where I could sing along and not feel so alone.

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