When I was younger, all sorts of people were attracted to me and paid attention. By the time I began travelling, however, I had reached the age of invisibility. What notice I received was generally because I was wearing inappropriate (comfortable) shoes in style-conscious countries. Once in awhile old men would notice me.
It has changed again. I have white hair now. Most old men who can still see look at younger women. I’m still invisible to that young and middle age group…unless I need help up a curb. But I have a new entourage. Young children are fascinated by my hair, which is very unusual in Europe. Old women in small villages love me, especially the white-haired ones:)
My friendships from two years ago in the Centro Storico have not worked out so well. Miss Cranky has died. Tonio is reportedly alive but not visible so I must assume is is less mobile. Mariauchi still prattles on in a dialect that continues to baffle me.
Thanks to my kind landlord, I have found Teresita. He took me to her care center in San Nicola Arcella. And I returned again today to say goodbye. These visits were strictly for my benefit. She doesn’t remember me. She did, however, shout, “Tonio,” when I handed her a photo of the two of them together. I am happy to see that she is receiving loving care. And I learned that she has a daughter who visits her daily. Blessings on the daughter. Teresita is very crazy and very vocal. I’m positive that if the other residents were capable, they would kill her in her sleep. I have fared better on the pedonale. The sisters are still active and visible at the passegiatta every night. And Tonino is still anxious to be with me. (Sometimes distressingly so. In my entire life he’s the only person who has ever gaped at me and smiled broadly for the entire time I am with him.) My husband tells me that I should be finding younger friends. This is more easily said than done. Things aren’t too different here in Italy. The young people are busy and hang together. The young parents have their hands full and flock together with other young parents. The middle-aged people run in couples and packs, too.
Bingo. Here is one of my new best friends. She wanted us to go to her home but it was late and I had a winding road to travel. Maybe it is because these older people have time. Perhaps it is fascination for a woman their age who travels independently. Or, it is just that I’m thrilled to talk with anyone who gives me insight into a life so different (and so similar) to my own. It could even be the “American” cachet. It seems that almost everyone in Italy has a relative in the U.S. Seeing someone who lives there is a connection to a loved one faraway. More than once I have had to disappoint a person who asks me, “Do you know my cousin in …?” As long as I am capable of travel and can find human connection in these faraway places, I will probably be writing down names and places and planning ways to return for a shared memory.