Sweet Child O' Mine (Ch.2)

  Antonia replayed the last 20  minutes in her head.  She went back till she found where she had ‘lost’ him, his interest, his calm. It was when she started questioning his past,  especially when she started talking about that old band, Armored Roses.    His demeanor went from calm, engaged, and interested, to somber, mellow and sickened in a matter of seconds.  She wanted to meet with him again, to undo any harm she might have caused.  But she didn’t have his number, or his address.  Wait, he said he was here every night, it was his routine.  She would hang back over the next few days to see if he would re-appear at his usual spot.

  Meanwhile, Bill was trying to find a place he could get comfortable in, but to no avail.  His heart was pounding out of his chest.  A mixture of feelings poured through him, his mind was in complete disarray.   He walked across the hall into the kitchen, opened the fridge, grabbed some sliced ham, cheese, mustard, lettuce, a tomato, and a mayo type spread similar to ranch dressing.  He set the items on the table, grabbed a plate, butter knife, and some sliced bread.  He took a deep breath, and started to prepare his sandwich.  As he sliced the tomato, he started to calm down.  His heart rate slowed, his breathing returned to normal.  He focused completely on making the best tasting sandwich in the history of the universe.  With his concoction complete, he returned all the ingredients to the fridge, then grabbed a bottle of Heineken from the top shelf of the fridge, closed the door,  picked up his plate with his free hand and made his way back across the hall to his living room.  He sat in his over-sized recliner that faced the windows to the balcony.  The windows were opened.  He listened to the business of the people on the streets as they made their way home for the night.  The cars and scooters honking at each other, or the pedestrians attempting to cross the street outside of the crosswalk.  A dove landed on his balcony.  It perched itself near the window and cooed at Bill, as if to tell him, it will be okay.  Just relax.  Breathe, Bill, just breathe.  Bill sat down his half eaten sandwich on the plate and took a large swig of his ice cold beer.  The icy beer washed down not only the sandwich but the rest of his anxiety.  Bill continued to sip on his beer and listen to the pigeon.  Allowing the peace and solitude to return him to a state of complacency.  He  sat and stared at the bird till it cooed its good-night and flew away to its own home, which was probably in one of the many old bell fray’s around the city.  Bill looked at the digital clock on the DVD player, it was 10:15, the sun had finally set completely about 45 minutes earlier.  The room was dark.  He reached over to the table besides his chair and switched on the lamp that stood there.  He could see her eyes staring at him, inviting him in, asking him to lean closer.  He rubbed his eyes, and shook his head.  He felt his heart start to pound again.  “Enough of this bullshit!” he said as he gulped down the rest of the beer.  He took the plate with the half eaten sandwich back into the kitchen.  He threw the bottle into the garbage, placed a paper towel over the plate, and put it into the fridge where he grabbed another beer.  Bill was not a heavy drinker, at least not anymore,  but tonight, he needed it.  He wanted to sleep, to allow his mind to rest, and a few  beers usually did the trick.

  Bill returned to the living room, where he sat back down in his recliner,  grabbed the remote  from the table and flipped through the channels.  There wasn’t much on, other than football.  Football is all that seemed to be on the TV in Italy, it was the only thing he disliked about living in Europe; the fascination with football.   He found an interesting program on Discovery World.  He watched as they toured though excavation sites around the world, uncovering how man lived thousands of years ago.  He loved how they always made it a point to show how science “proved” that there was no God, or how all the different religions basically believed the same things, they just had different names for it.  He wasn’t an atheist, but he wasn’t bible thumper either.  He believed in God, the rest he wasn’t sure about, it just seemed like a bunch of rules that somebody came up with in order to subdue the masses.  His beliefs weren’t set in stone, but he had to laugh at the way science poked fun of religion and it’s followers.  The beer was doing it’s job, as was the program on the TV.  Bills eyes began to feel heavy, they were taking longer to open after he would blink.  He forced them back open, finished off the rest of his beer, and hit the sleep button on his remote.  He set it for 30 minutes.  He sat down the empty bottle and remote on the table. Propped his feet up on the ottoman in front of his chair, folded his hands over his chest, and let nature take it’s course.

  “Mr.  Buxton, how do you feel about the  decision?  Are you relieved Gunner?  Can we get a statement Gunner?”  Light bubs were flashing, the lights  from the TV  cameras were blinding.  He  could smell the aroma a dozen different colognes and perfumes.  The heat from the bodies of the crowd pressing in around him was overwhelming.  His hands formed into fists, his knuckles were white, his jaw was clenched.  He felt like one of  those old bear traps that could spring shut with it’s iron claws at the touch of a leaf landing on it’s trigger.  His entourage was pushing him through the crowd.  “We have  no comments at this time.” he heard the man to his left say to the plethora of journalists following him to his waiting limo.  As they descended the steps of the court house and reached the waiting car, the crowd of journalists divided in front of him.  The photographers were snapping photos of a person waiting in front of his car door.  Now they were  back to shooting him, then the other person.  Then he saw her.  She stood tall and silent.  The victory he had just won, was a heavy defeat in her mind.  She stood her ground as he got closer.  Her stony expression never changed.  He was now standing right in front of her.  The man next to him started to speak: “Not here, not now Bill, you…”  but Bill stopped him as he started speaking to the woman standing in front of him.  “ Elaine, I’m sor…”  THWACK!  The sound of flesh hitting flesh echoed through the air.  The shutters snapped even more frantically than before.  She had slapped his left cheek.  As he looked back  up at her, her expression had  not changed, there was no expression  in her face.  But her eyes, yes her eyes were screaming at him behind the tears that were slowly falling from her eyes.  There was a fury there that no words of judgment either in his favor or hers would ever erase.  There was a man who had been standing behind  her, he put his arm around the older woman, and started to lead her off “let’s  go home mom, it’s over now.”  The man gave a cold  stony look at Bill, daring him to say another word.  She allowed her son to lead her to their car that was waiting two cars up from Bills‘.  Bill stood there, thankful for the sunglasses that were hiding his eyes that were rapidly filling up with tears.  His lawyer and bodyguard ushered him into his limo, crawled in after him and closed the door.
  “Well the criminal part is over now Bill.  Now we have to prepare for the civil suit that I’m sure Elaine and Tom are going to bring against you.  I think we have a great shot at being able to get out of having to pay any damages to them.”

  “Give her what she wants Tony, I don’t  care what the amount is, just work it out with her side, and get with my manager and accountant.” Bill said.

  “But Bill!!!  You were just found innocent in her death, why should you have to pay?”

  “JUST DO IT TONY!”  Bill screamed  at his lawyer.  “No more filings, briefs,  affidavits, depositions, juries, court hearings, I’m done.  I just want to put this behind me.  Give Elaine what she wants, end of discussion!”

  The car phone rang.  Bill didn’t hear it he was staring out of the window.  There was a large hard lump in his throat.  He swallowed hard.  A tear started to trickle down from his left eye.  He took a deep breath and sat up straight, gained control of himself till they reached his Malibu home.  Tony stuck the phone in his hand.  “It’s Sonny for you.” he said.  Bill apprehensively took the phone from Tony.  He didn’t particularly care for Sonny, but he was head of his record label, and he had to play nice with the guy that ensured he made money; money that he was now gonna need  more than ever.

  “Yeah, Sonny, what’s up?”

  “Congratulations man!  I knew you had nothing to worry about!!  Now that this is all behind us, we can get back to the studio and wrap up these last few tracks for the new album.  And we need to meet up to discuss the tour.”

  “ Yeah,  okay Sonny.  Look I’m exhausted can we talk later?  I’ll call you tomorrow, k?”

  “Oh yeah, sure man!!  Look  take the rest of the week off, and come down to the studio Monday morning, say around 9 ok?”

  “Ok, see ya then Sonny.”  Bill said flatly

  “Cheer up man, you’re free!  Go celebrate!”  Sonny hung up.  Bill handed the phone back to Tony.  “Ass-wipe.” Bill said under his  breath.  Tony placed the phone back on it’s receiver.  Sonny’s got a point you know, you just got your life back, you should be happy, let the last 9 months go, man.  Look I’ll send my guy over to ya, he’ll fix you up.”

  “No Tony!  Just leave it okay!”  The car was pulling up into his driveway.  It came to a stop.  Tony started in again about how he  needed to relax, party.  How he was sure the guys would be over soon with some beer, girls, and anything else he wanted.  Bill threw the door open to the car.  Tony was  right  behind him.  Bill spun around as Tony continued to talk about throwing a big blow out!

  “ENOUGH TONY!!!  I DON’T WANT ANY DRUGS, GIRLS, OR PARTY!  My wife is DEAD!!  Her  family blames ME!  Just leave me alone, get the hell off my property!”

Bill woke up, sweat was pouring from his body.  There was a strong breeze  blowing through the open windows.  Bill’s heart was pounding again.  He wiped the sweat from his face.  Placed his feet solidly on the floor.  He leaned over  and placed his head in his hands and cried for the first time in 17 years. 


Sweet Child O' Mine (chapter 1)

           *this is a work in progress.  posting here for thoughts, feedback, and ideas*

Bill was sitting at an outdoor café next to the sea.  He was sipping on a cup of perfectly brewed espresso.  The sun was setting behind the mountains of La Spezia.  The gulls were crying, and the pigeons were walking around the tables looking for bits of bread from the tables of the other patrons.  This was his nightly routine.  Sit at the café, drink an espresso, read a paper, and a book. 

  He had since finished the paper.  Same story different headline: death, hatred, sadness.  There was nothing inspiring to read, ever.  He didn’t much feel like reading his book, which was a historical book he thought looked promising, but was proving dull, and repetitive.  Watching the other patrons at the café was  much more entertaining. 

  Italians love their football.  Soccer was a sport he could never  get into.  Actually he never got into any type of sport. He played little league while growing up in the Midwest America, but only did it to make his dad happy, which like everything Bill did seemed to do only infuriated his dad. 

  The other patrons had all turned their chairs towards the large flat screen the current game was now playing on.  They were yelling at the referees, cheering at the goals, etc.   Bill’s table was at the back end of the perimeter of the café, next to the fence that bordered the sidewalk next to the street.  His chair was also facing the set, but it was also facing the sea.  Bill’s attention was drawn from the sea and the gulls above it.  His focus was now on the collective cohesiveness of the football fans watching the game. They were one in mind and spirit, separated only by bodies. 

  The long cool sleekness of a woman who sat down at the table in front of him pulled his attention from the people watching.  She was wearing a white linen sun dress and sandals.  Her long silky dark hair was loose.  He couldn’t see her face but knew by the way she carried herself that she was beautiful.  Her skin was an olive complexion that is generally found in Italians.  Unlike himself with his German and Scottish ancestry, the ability to get and maintain a tan had not been inherited by himself.  He had fair skin, that while had a slight tinge of color, wasn’t what anyone would call ’tanned’.  Even though he had not seen her face, he was staring at her.  He felt something he not felt in a long time, an intense desire to really to get know someone.  For years he had not wanted to really build a relationship of any kind with anyone.  Perhaps she felt his eyes drinking her in like a cook drink of water on a hot summer day, because she turned around and looked at him.  His breath caught in his chest when his eyes met hers.  She had the face of an angel.  High cheek bones, perfectly formed mouth with soft full lips.  And her eyes, they were bright hazel green pools of intelligence, beauty and kindness, framed by long, full black lashes.

  Suddenly from the T.V. a commercial for some set of 10 CD’s consisting of all the hits from the 1980-1990’s was blaring.  There it was, THAT song.  Bill’s attention was called to one of the other tables, a young guy stood up and  was lip-syncing to THAT song.  Mimicking  and making fun of the lead singer from one of the largest rock bands in the world who started during the 80’s.  Bill’s breath was back, a darkness loomed over him.  That song, it haunted him, pursued him like a demon dog out of hell.  His past life loved to rear its head and mock him every chance it got.  And here his former self was again, blaring at him from the flat screen and the mocking of a young man he had never set eyes on before now.  He had forgotten about the girl, until she spoke.  As he met eyes with her again, the world lightened  back up, the darkness rolled back.  She spoke:
  “I’m sorry, am I in your way?”
  “Am I in your way?  I mean, can you see the game, or should I move?”

Bill smiled, laughed softly and shook his head, “No, not at all.  I don’t like football.  But you can join me if you like.”

  “Not like football?!?  Oh!  The Sacrilege!  Better not say that too loudly around here!”  She laughingly said.  “I would be happy to join you, if you are sure it’s not a problem.” she said.

  “Of course not, see I saved your seat for you!” He said as he picked up the paper and book and laid them on the table. “Can I get you something to eat or drink?  What would you like?”

  “A glass of red wine sounds good”.  She was pulling her wallet out of her hand made bohemian  style purse.

  “No, please,  allow me, it would be my pleasure.”  Bill said as he got up and headed towards the counter.  “One  glass  of red wine  coming right up.”

Bill ordered  two glasses of red wine.  His espresso was  still there, not yet finished, but it suddenly had lost its appeal.  As he waited  for the waiter to open the bottle and pour the glasses, he looked back to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. It wasn’t a flashback, she was real.  She was looking down at her hands.  She fiddled with a ring on her right index finger.  A small smile of a good, distant memory passed her lips.  She felt Bill watching her, and looked up.  He smiled at her and motioned to wait just another minute.  She smiled back  and  nodded her head in the affirmative. 

  The waiter placed  two glasses of wine in front of him, asked him if wanted some food to go along with with.  He replied that he would.  He hadn’t eaten since  noon, and wine on an empty stomach gave him nothing but a head ache.  He didn’t want to have to leave this angelic like woman any sooner than he had to;  tonight might be the only time he would get with her.  He would make the most of it.  The waiter said he would bring the food momentarily.  Bill paid the bill, and took the wine and headed back towards the table.  As he side stepped around the chairs of the other patrons, he looked down to make sure he didn’t trip over one of their chairs, or knock their table.  It was then that he remembered his age.  He was 49 years old, a washed up has been.  An aging recluse, with a small beer belly, crows feet and slightly graying hair.  He was still attractive for his age, but he was no Robert Redford; who looks good no matter how old he gets.  The wind was knocked out of him again, but not in a good way this time.  As he made it back to his table and sat the glasses of wine on the table a little voice inside his head laughed at him and said 
“Who are you kidding Billy-boy?!?  Look at her, she can’t be  older than 24!  You’re old enough to be her father.  But besides that she’s gorgeous, and you?!?  You’re old and out of shape, do you really think she’s interested in you in anyway, other than being charitable with her time?  Face it, she’s being  nice to a seemingly nice OLD MAN!”

  Bill smiled as he took his seat next to her, that black cloud creeping back up over him again.  Memories of past relationships  gone  wrong rapidly played in his mind’s eye!  Her voice caught his attention and drew him back to the here and now. 
  “So you are obviously not from here.  Are you on vacation?” she asked.
 “No, I moved here about 3 years ago.  I needed a change of scenery.  I’ve always like Italy, so here I am.” 
  “Really?!  Yes Italy is beautiful.  But I have to ask, if you don’t like football,  why come go to a café, when you know that everyone will be watching the game on the TV.?”

  “It’s my routine.  I come here to this same café  every evening, watch the  sunset, drink my coffee, and  occasionally a glass of wine..” he held up his glass “… read a bit, and of course people watch.  It’s distracting, and occasionally quite amusing.”  he said with a smile.

   “Aha!” she said with a playful smile.  “You are a philosopher and perhaps a poet too, I think.”

  Something flashed in her eyes as she said this, that perhaps no one would have noticed, but it didn’t escape Bills notice.  It piqued his curiosity, but he thought it couldn’t  be anything bad.  How could this ethereal beauty have any kind of malice in even an inch of her goddess like body?

    Bill laughed, and replied to her “No, not a philosopher, and definitely not a poet.  Just a retired bachelor, enjoying his life, in what he considers paradise.  My name is William, but my friends calls me Bill.”

  “I think I like William, it suits you better.”

  She was looking  intently into his eyes.  He felt the black cloud roll away.  He felt warm sunlight beaming into his soul.  What did he do to deserve to have even 1 minute of her time?

  “And you, miss, what do your friends call you?”

  “I’m sorry, that was rude of me!  Please forgive me.  My name is Antonia.  My English friends calls  me ‘Toni’”.

   “No, not Toni!  It’s too common, and you Antonia are anything but common.”

  She blushed, and pushed her hair back off of her sleek shoulders.  The waiter came with a small plate of small pizza slices, a small bowl of peanuts, another of chips, and divided bowl which contained black and green olives.  “Grazi” bill said as the waiter placed the last bowl on the table and turned to leave.  He motioned for Antonia to help herself.  She smiled and moved forward and took a green olive.  Bill took a small slice of the pizza.   The setting sun, had made the air a bit cooler, especially being so close to the water.  Antonia rubbed her arms as a small shiver passed through her.

  “Are you cold, would you like me to get you a wrap?  I know the owner here, they usually have an extra jacket in the back.  Should I get it for you?”

  “No, it’s  okay.  I have a small wrap here in my bag, see?!?” she said as she reached in to her bag and pulled out a powder blue and cream colored hand woven cotton wrap.  She unfolded it and placed it around her shoulders.  She smiled again at Bill, and said “see, I am like your American Boy-Scouts, always prepared.”

  Bill laughed and nodded approvingly.  He took a sip of the wine, the taste of sweet red grapes played against the tomato sauce from the pizza.  She placed another olive  in her mouth.  He watched her lips form a into a pucker as the saltiness of the olive hit her palate.  She pulled out the pit and placed it on a napkin. 

  “So Antonia, are you from here, in La Spezia?”

  “Yes, I am.  I was born here, and lived her most of  my life.  I am here on vacation,  visiting my parents.  I live in Paris now.”

  “What do you do in Paris?”

  “I work at the Louvre, you know, the art museum.”

  “Yes, I know the Louvre,  I’ve been once before.  It was fascinating all those ancient pieces of art that have lasted through wars, plagues, and all other sorts of atrocities.  What exactly do you do there?”

  “I’m a preservationist, and curator there.”

  “Really?  Where did you attend school, here in Italy, or there in Paris?”

  “Actually I attended U.C.L.A.”

  Bill didn’t really care for California.  Yes it was a lovely place, it had everything, mountains, beaches, desert, ever imaginable climate, all found in one place.  But the people, especially in places like L.A., and Berkley, he didn’t like.  They were arrogant, self-absorbed elitists who thought that they owned the world, and that their thoughts and ideas were the only ones that mattered.  Even when they were all clamoring for his favor and attention years ago, he couldn’t stomach them.  They wanted his attention, which only provoked his anger, and irritation. He couldn’t picture her in the same atmosphere with those people, let alone living amongst them.

  “Did you like California?”  He asked.

  “It was nice, reminded me a bit of home sometimes,  but for the most part no.  The people were  too opinionated and full of themselves for my taste.  There was  no discussing anything unless you shared the same point of view as they did, which is pointless if you ask me.  I mean, what is the point of discussing a subject if you don’t even want to hear an  opposing point of view.  This is life, what it is about,  contradictions, conflict, finding a middle ground so that we can all grow as persons, find a way to live in harmony, yes?”

  He agreed with her, “I think you are the philosopher and poet, as well as the art historian.”

  “Perhaps a bit.” she said.

  “What about you though, are you yourself an artist?” He inquired

  “I suppose you could call me that.  I travel all over helping to restore antiquated frescos and other pieces of art that are in constant exposure to the elements.”

  “No Antonia originals floating around out there?”

  “A few.  I do paint, but not often.  I have to feel really inspired to paint anything that I feel is good enough to try to sell or show in a gallery.  I have a small collection being  shown in a gallery in Paris coming up in a few months.  That’s actually why I cam home to La Spezia for my vacation instead of staying in France or going elsewhere.  I have one more piece I need to do before I can show the collection, and I always find inspiration here.  Maybe it’s because it’s my home, and I know it so intimately”  She was looking out over the water and at the mountains in the distance.  Her face seemed to light up as she drank In the view of her life history.

  Bill  felt  completely mesmerized.  He continued to sip his wine, and nibble on the pizza and nuts.  It was like the windows  to his life that had been closed shut for many years had finally been forced open, and the fresh breeze was blowing away the cobwebs from his mind.

  “And you William, you said you were retired.   What did you do?”

The question he was hoping that wouldn’t be asked, but knew it to be inevitable.

  “I was a musician back in the states.  I made some smart investments and got out so that I could enjoy my life, and here I am, sitting in what I consider heaven, enjoying a glass of fine red wine with an angel.”

 His flirtatious answer did not go unnoticed, and it even reciprocated a flirtatious look from Antonia who was gazing at Bill with inquiring eyes.  There was more to his past than he was telling her.  She could sense it.  She smiled sweetly at him and continued the questioning of his obscure past.

  “A  musician, see I knew you were a poet.  All musicians are poets!  But what kind of musician, I mean you must have done something pretty big to have made enough money to retire early.  I mean you don’t look older than 40.”  Yes, she was being kind.  Bill’s age showed.  It was easy to take once glance at Bill and presume him to be around 50.  But being the kind woman that she was, and herself knowing that aging is not something any of us enjoy, she stroked his guarded ego, hoping that he would open up.

  “You are being too kind,  but thank you for the compliment.  I’m actually 49, I’ll be the big 5-0 next month.  But yes, you are right, I did do some rather “big” things musically.  I was in a band, we did well.”

  “REALLY?!?”  there was something about the way she asked this that made Bill think that she already knew this  piece of information.  That she also already knew exactly who he was , and what band he had been in.  He tried to lie to himself  to shrug it off.  How could she know she wasn’t old enough to have known his music, she had probably just been born when they hit the scene back in the day.

  “What  band were you in?”  She quizzed

  “Oh it was a long time ago, you weren’t even born yet I don’t think.  You can’t be a day over 24.  And I played what was called ‘heavy metal‘ back in the states.  A sound that wasn‘t immensely popular here in Europe.”

  “Actually I’m 28. And I listened to all kinds of music growing up, especially American music.  I loved American music.  I was, or rather still am, a huge fan of Otis Redding, and Ray Charles.  My favorite band from the 80’s as far as ‘heavy metal’ goes is that band ‘Armored Roses’.  But I don’t consider them heavy metal, just a really great rock band.  I had a HUGE crush on their lead singer when I was a little girl.  I thought ‘Gunner’ was so handsome.  I wanted to marry him.  You know how little girls are when they have a crush.  Silly, huh?”

  Bill felt even more uncomfortable now than he had in decades.  She completely unnerved him.  She had just admitted to having had, what was probably her first crush of her life on him.  He felt  his face flush.   His palms and forehead began to sweat slightly.  He decided to try to turn the conversation a different direction, then excuse himself as quickly as possible.  He took a large sip of his wine.

  “So have you started that last painting yet?  I mean, have you found  the inspiration that only being home can give you?”

  She had taken a sip of wine and was swallowing it when it came time for her to respond.

  “Mmmmm.  Not yet.  I just got here yesterday morning, so I’ve been catching up with my family and  friends.  I spent today walking around and just drinking in the scenes in the city.  The children playing football in the streets.  The teen-agers walking along hand in hand, engrossed totally in each other, forgetting that there are other people in the world besides themselves.  That’s a wonderful feeling - that first twinge of feeling in love with someone, when all the world seems to melt away, and that nothing bad will ever happen because of that other person next to you.  Don’t you think?”

  “Yes, it is nice.  Sounds like you’ve found your inspiration already.”  He took another large sip of his wine.  His glass was nearly empty.  Hers was still half full. 

  “Oh, well yes, that can be inspiring in and of itself for some very pretty prose, but not for a painting.  I think I may have found something today though that has a glimmer of hope for a wonderful piece though.  She looked intently as she took a long slow sip of wine.  She licked her lips and smiled somewhat seductively at Bill. 

  This was too much.  He needed to get out of there quickly.  He felt like a mouse who had been tempted towards the cheese in the trap, and if he didn’t resist and run away now, the trap would snap shut and he would be done for.  That angelic face hid a dark intent.  He didn’t know exactly what it was, but life and experience had trained him well.  He argued with himself.  “Stop being a scared old fool.  Not everyone is out to get you, man!  Honestly, how many times do you get  in this lately to sit across from a gorgeous, talented, sexy woman, who looks at you, and tells you with her eyes that she likes you, that she would like wrap her arms around you, and kiss away all your troubles?!?  Buck up man!”

  He felt that he was loosing his calm, his center.  He was  beside himself.  He couldn’t take it any longer.  He leaned  over, placing his hand to head, and  wiped away a small  amount of perspiration that had collected there. 

  “I think the wine was a mistake for me.  I’m feeling a  bit light headed.  I feel a bit foolish.  I’m so sorry, but I need to get home.  It was lovely to meet you Antonia.  I hope you find that inspiration you need in order to finish your collection.”  he said as he stood up.

  Antonia looked surprised.  She was sure she was on the way to being invited to his home, where she was sure to have seduced him, which would have helped her in getting what she was after. 

  “ Would you like me to walk with you to your home?”  She asked.
He thought about it for a moment.  The temptation was great, but he resisted, even though everything in screamed at him “YOU IDIOT!”

  “No, I’ll be okay, I don’t live very far from here.  But thank you for asking.  No, you stay, enjoy the rest of your wine.  And trust me, these guys are quite amusing; who knows, you might find inspiration right here at this table.”

  He had no idea that he had spoken truth.  She had found inspiration at that very table,  but not for a piece of art.  For something far more valuable that some paint on a canvass.  She  looked up at him, disappointment, and a begging him to stay look in her eyes.  Bill held out his large hand.  It was strong, and fine.  She slipped her long, elegant hand into his.

  “It was a pleasure to meet you Antonia.   I wish you all the  best.”

  “The pleasure was mine William.  But don’t wish me all the best, I hope that we will meet again.”

  Bill smiled at her, withdrew his hand and turned and walked away.  He paced himself  so that it didn’t appear that he was literally running from her.  His mind was a muddled mess of confusion and disorder, something he did not like.  He had maintained his composure in every situation, something that took him a long time to learn.  Nothing had rattled him like this in nearly 20 years.  He was looking but didn’t really see where he was or where he was going.  His feet knew the route, and within a ten minute walk he found himself unlocking the door to his building.


Learning Curve

  While I used to think of myself as somewhat intelligent, I now question that assumption.  I mean they say people who learn other languages quickly are smart, really smart!  So what's wrong with me???

  I've been in this country for 2 years now, and can only understand and communicate verbally on a small scale.  However I can read and write it dang near perfectly!!!  What's up with that, it's normally the other way around.  Most people learn to speak it first, and later they master the written part!!

  I always knew I was a little different, but c'mon!  Okay, enough squawking from me.  One thing I have noticed of myself though is that it depends on who you are conversing with when trying to understand and speak a second language.  For example, my mother in law, who I thought would be the very LAST person I would be able to communicate with, has been the first.

  Let me paint you a mental picture of my mother in law.  She's 58 years old, at least 6 feet tall, or just under it.  Set in her ways.  Never been outside this country.  She grew up under communistic rule.  She's got have things her way.  When she speaks with Marius or his siblings, etc.  It's not "harsh", but it's not "sweet" either, it is just matter of fact.  When asking why they did such and such, it's not in the the tone of "well, baby, why did you do that?"  It's more like "WHY?  Why did you do that?"  (conveying tone of voice is not easy).  I hope you know what I mean.....

...so you can see why I was thinking I would never be able to communicate with her.  I was scared, but it does make a person nervous.  However, with my mother in law, she is patient with me (something I wasn't expecting, as she is NOT the most patient of persons).  Another example, the woman who owns the little store in front of our bloc - I don't speak grammatically correct, and I mis-pronounce the words, but she is patient with me, helps me when I need help in saying a word.  She talks to me as if I understand her, and believe it or not, most of the time I understand about half of what she is saying.

  Then there are people who when I try to talk look at me like I'm a retarded alien from the planet Xenon!  So what I've learned to do is when I go to the market, or a banc, or somewhere new, where the people don't know me (like the people at the store by my bloc), I start off with saying "Scuze, nu vorbesti Romaneste foarte bine....." then go on to say what I want/need.  That usually softens them up and they know that I dont' speak well.  And they try to help.  Most of them do, I still get some cranky women from time to time who think the sun and earth revolve around them, and they start chastizing me for NOT speaking the language fluently!  Grrrrr.....I would like to rip them up out of their comfort zone and drop them in middle of Kansas where there isn't anyone around who speaks Romanian, and tell them, "OKAY!!  Your Turn.  You have 1 year to be fluent in English, now, let's see you do it!  And oh yeah, here are 3 small kids to deal with on top of it all!"

  Yeah, I know, wrong attitude, but I'm human, and well, that's just me.  But for all of you out there who run into emigrants, who don't fully speak the native language fluently, or even partially.  Be patient with them, especially if you see them trying.  For myself, when people look at me funny, cause they don't get what I'm trying to say, it makes me want to shut up and not even bother.  But when I see them trying to understand me through my butchery of their language, and then try to help me, it gives me a little more confidence, like, "Hey!  I can do this!"

  And I can, I mean I look at my husband, he speaks 5 languages, well 4 now really, as he hasn't used one of them in so long, it's kinda touchy with that one.

  So next time you run into a Mexican, German, French-man/woman, etc., and you see them trying to speak English, don't look at them like "YOU SHOULD BE FLUENT", don't give them attitude, help them out!  Encourage them.  And a lot of them probably know more English than they think they do, but are so self-conscious about their pronunciation and bad grammar that they are embarrassed to try to speak!  Encourage them!


Starting Over (pt.2)

  So my parents had returned to the states and I was okay, until October, when my best friend since the ripe ole age of 12 got married.  Not being there for Briana's wedding was hard to take, I cried, got a bit depressed.  Then came December it wasn't just my first Christmas without my family around, but my other best friend was giving birth to her first child.  Grey had been my room-mate and side kick.  She was with me through my entire pregnancy with my oldest - she even gained sympathy weight, and was with me in the delivery room when Kelly was born.  She was kind, patient, never complained about the crying, collicky baby screaming her little head off at 2 and 3 a.m.  But I was still okay.  I had my husband, and children, that was why I was here to keep MY family together.  So that my kids wouldn't go for years without seeing their father, and that is what would have happened, had we stayed behind in the U.S. and let Marius come over here alone.

  So everything is going okay, and then rolls in 2010, Marius had finally found work in March of 2010, only it was in Italy, which wasn't ideal, as he would be away from home for months at a time, but it was better than the alternatives of no work at all, or a little work here in Romania working for pretty much nothing.  Or me and the kids being back in the U.S., as I stated earlier.  There was a small glimmer of home that I would be able to fly home in April for my brother's wedding, only I had no one to keep the kids for me, and no funds.  My parents were helping pay for the wedding, and if they bought me a flight, then they wouldn't be able to afford to fly over and see ALL of us in the summer.  So I stayed put in Romania, dad brought his laptop to the wedding and we attempted to have me there via webcam.  Just as the wedding started, the computer overheated and shut down.  I got to see my baby brother in his tux and talk to him prior to the wedding, but I wasn't there, and then I couldn't even see it with the aid of technology. 

  I wasn't there to watch my brother take the steps from boy to man, his transition to being an adult.  At this I was angry, I didn't want to talk to anyone.  Marius called and he was like, it was just a wedding, I missed a lot too.  I yelled at him saying "You never missed anyone's wedding!  You have 2 brothers and a sister, none of whom have had a wedding!  I only have 1, O.N.E. brother, who I helped raise!!!"  He realized there was no way to console me, so he let me vent.  *Have I mentioned how extraordinarily awesome my husband is?!?*

  So I got over it, obviously.  I continued to try to adapt, and eventually found my rhythm.  I found myself learning the language more and more since Marius was no longer with me everyday.  I was beginning to be able to communicate with my mother in law.  MIL are generally not a great thing, at least not here, but even with a language barrier me and Ana get along, she loves me, I help where and when I can.  I try, and I thought she would be the last person I would be able to understand, or have understand me as I muddled my way through the language.  But to my surprise I learned more from her, and she has more patience with me, than most other people.  I went to visit Marius in Italy in June of 2010, and noticed that when I was with him and his room-mates, all the RO I had learned flew out of  my head, I wasn't even trying to understand what they were saying.  I subconsciously knew that he would translate for me.  I hated myself for that.  But I still do it, just a habit I guess. 

  So here I am now exactly 2 years later since first arriving in this country.  It is a beautiful country, and has so much possibility, if crooked politicians would stop lining their pockets with Romania's life blood of it's people.  My language skills are still pretty bad, but I'm getting it slowly, but surely.  My kids are thriving, and my husband is working. 

  It's not fun playing the single-mom to three kids for 48 weeks a year, but it's a choice I've made, and for me it is better to have my husband only a 2 hour flight away instead of a 20 hour plus butt-load of paperwork away.  My kids are getting a better education here, than they would in the U.S.  They are bi-lingual, and will soon be tri-lingual, as I want them to take another language besides English in school.  I want one to take French, another Spanish, and the other to take German.  German is supposedly easier for native English speakers to learn.  My kids are getting an advantage they wouldn't have in the U.S.  They are learning how hard life can be, because here life is extremely hard.  There are people who have to choose whether to buy food, or pay for electricity.

  Yeah, my life is hard, more emotionally, and psychologically hard here than it would be in the U.S.  But honestly I wouldn't change my mind about coming here.  Keeping my family together is more important than anything else.  While I would LOVE more than anything to be able to see my parents and brother and sister in law any time I want, my marriage, and my kids having their father close by is more important.

Marius if you are reading this, I LOVE you with all my heart and wouldn't change a thing about our life, well except for maybe us owning our own apartment instead of renting one!  ;) 


Starting Over (pt.1)

  January 19, 2009,4:00 p.m. Ryan Airport, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A. 

LOADS of luggage, heavy winter coats, 2 adults, 3 small kids, 5 carry on bags.  My parents, and brother, his girlfriend, and her parents, and siblings standing near the security gate crying our good-bye's.  My kids were somewhat oblivious to what was really going on.  No matter how hard I explained that we were moving for good to Romania, that I wasn't sure if or when we would ever come back to the states, they were fine, which was good.  I was okay, holding it together, that is until my dad hugged me and wouldn't let go. 

  I could feel him holding it in, and I lost it at that point - the tears flowed, no matter how hard I tried to restrain them.  At that moment I had a fear of that being the last time I would ever see my dad's face, his kind eyes, hear is infectious laugh, and be held in strong, safe arms.  Even now thinking back on it, I get bleary eyed.

Fast forward 20 hours: January 20, 2009 4:45 p.m. Otopeni International Airport, Bucuresti, Romania
Feel like I'm in a dream.  Just watched a miracle take place with my husband's Embassy issued Travel Document, and admitting to having been in the U.S. without a visa.  Romanian Border agent fixed husband's problems in the system - so now there was no more problem.  We gather our gagillion pieces of luggage on two carts and head out into the lobby.  There we are greeted by his two brothers and one sister.  Tears of relief, and joy are flowing freely.  My husband hadn't seen his family in over 12 years.

We leave the airport at around 5:30 p.m., seven hours later, at 1 a.m. we arrive to his mother's apartment in the small city of Tulcea.  We begin to start again.  Marius takes me all over the city showing me where he went to school, where he hung out.  I met his childhood friends.  I sat in the back-seat of his brother's small Dacia bracing myself in a daze, from what I was sure was going to be a head on collision due to small streets, and people not knowing how to park properly.  I understood nothing of what was being said.

I call my dad's cell phone to let him know we made it safe and sound, and were home.  It was nearly 2 a.m. in Louisiana, I got his voice mail, and hearing the sound of his voice made me cry.  It was a big adjustment for me.  I was okay for the first 6 months or so, and all it once it all hit me.  I came home from one of the "supermarkets" and screamed at Marius because of people pushing me with their buggies, or standing right on top of me in the check-out line.  The couldn't stand back and let me pay for my items, no they had to peer around to the read out to see my total.

  I walked in, slammed the door, and dropped the bags on the floor, and started yelling "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!?"  Marius totally oblivious to what I was talking about, was just sitting there stunned - I never loose it like this.  I explain about the check-out line.  He explains it goes back to when it was communist, and people had to get up before the sun to get in line just to get milk and bread and the stood close to each other to keep people from cutting in line.  I said I understood that, but it wasn't communist anymore.  Then I just started yelling about how everyone was a communist - to which Marius jumps up and just holds me close. 

I wouldn't admit it to him, heck, I could barely admit it to myself, but I hated it here, I wanted to go home.  I hated everything, and everyone.  I would sit in the bathroom and cry, because I didn't know what else to do.  What it really boiled down to, was my fear of never seeing my parents again, especially my dad.  I didn't realize that was where my anger and frustration was coming from until they came to visit us in August. 

They arrived in Bucuresti, we met them at the airport, when my dad hugged me, it was similar to the hug he gave me when we left, but this time, it was "I'm holding my little girl again" hug, not a "I'm sending my little girl off into the unknown" hug.  We were all of us crying, and everyone at the airport was staring at us.  They just don't display affection like that here - I didn't care, I had my dad with me again, even if only for a week or so.

When they left, I was okay, I was at peace within.  My fear of never seeing my dad again disappeared in the airport.  I would love to see my dad's house, to sleep under his roof again, and that might still happen one day.

I had spent 8 months in a foreign place trying to understand the language the cultural difference.  Getting some of it, but missing most.  I watched as my kids quickly adapted and learned a new language.  I watched as my oldest daughter started school in a new country, while still learning new words in phrases in a language she had learned only 6 months earlier. He aptitude for language astonished me.  She was fluent within 2 months of our arrival!  My middle child learned the after resisting to learn for six months, but once she let go, and decided to learn it, she was just as quick.  My son, my baby was only 18 months old when we moved here, he was still learning English - he stopped speaking all together for a while.  Now he is speaking both - not great at his pronunciation, but he understands and speaks both!



  So I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but the people who live above me like to fight - and loudly!!!  We have been awoke at 3 a.m. to hear the sounds of furniture being shoved around, accompanied by shouting and yelling.

  I think most of time time they are near the bathroom when the fighting starts up, as that is where it is the loudest - in my bathroom.  Then sometimes they take it to the kitchen, and the balcony just off the kitchen.  I have no clue what they are fighting about.  However one time I did hear the woman yell a very bad word at the man.  The only reason I know this word is because in English when you say 'pull-up' it sounds like this Romanian word for a mans 'member'.

 So the other day, I'm in the bathroom, giving the girls their bath, and we hear the fighting, they've been going at it for a while now, and it had been one of those days, where EVERYTHING was getting on my last nerve.  So after getting the girls dried off, dressed, and sent to get under the blankets to keep warm, I was picking up in the bathroom, and just got tired of hearing their yelling, so I looked up at my bathroom ceiling and yelled at the top of my lungs "TACI" (pronounced 'toch' [short 'o' sound])! 

Taci, is romanian for shut up, Taci din gura, mean shut your mouth; gura means mouth.... 

...anyway, so after I yelled Taci as loudly as I could, the fighting stopped, at least we didn't hear it anymore.  Not the rest of that day anyway. 

Honestly, I have NO reason to be annoyed with the noise level coming from any of my neighbors, since my 3 monkeys make more noise than you find at a Metallica concert.....okay, not really, but it's close!  I mean they play loudly, and they fight even louder!  And of course I have to yell, so that they can hear me above their yelling, it's really quiet embarrassing, and I'm surprised none of our neighbors have ever said anything; in fact they usually stop my kids to talk to them, or will bring them treats from time to time.

So if you are ever in Romania, and someone is getting on your nerves just tell them 'Taci din gura'!