From the time I can recall, I have always believed everyone has a special someone out there in the world; someone you are meant to be with for the rest of your life. A happy ever after. I believed that love, at first sight, can happen. I believed that moments of ‘meet-cute’ could turn into a lifetime of happiness. Cue the squealing car-breaking sound! My Albanian, I would soon discover, did not.
A Good Friend
That fateful night in the club, I was the first to open the dance floor, as usual. I was supposed to be promoting for the club that night, but since all the rich kids had escaped with daddy’s credit card to places like Tunisia, Egypt and Greece, there was no business at all. So why not dance? My tall and overtly self-assured friend had stayed in town and agreed to keep me company. As the dance floor filled with the regulars and a few drunk tourists, I noticed in my peripheral, a guy trying to dance and slowly, very slowly, getting closer to my dance zone. I kept on grooving my thang, thinking, “Ha! He’ll never be able to keep up with me. I’ll just keep on dancing till he tires out!” But he didn’t. He was obviously winded, but he kept on doing his funny bopping movements.
Finally, he leaned in with a bit of sweat on his brow to ask, “Would you like to go and talk?” Talk?! When a guy in Italy asks you to talk, he doesn’t actually mean "talk." With nothing to lose, we headed to a quieter place to “talk.” To my surprise, we did talk! We talked for a while until his much taller friend (who later becomes my brother-in-law) motioned it was time for them to go. My Albanian then asked if we could have lunch together the next day.
It must be also noted that when a guy in Italy wants to see you again ---with the obvious intention of getting into your pants---he doesn’t waste time nor money. He will take you for an espresso. Which was roughly the cost of one thousand lire or about seventy-five cents. That fact that this guy wanted to invest a bit more on me, caught me off guard. I can clearly recall my internal decision-making on this question, “Well, if anything, you’ll get a good meal out of it. If it goes exceptionally well, he will make a really great friend.” I agreed to meet him at eleven the next day in front of the Irish Pub next to the Duomo; because every European city is required to have an Irish Pub. He offered to walk me home, but alas we parted for the night.
The next day I awoke in a panic. My alarm didn’t set itself! I’m guessing after a few gin and tonics and a night of constant dancing, fiddling with an alarm wasn’t a top priority, nor taking off clothes from the night before. The time displayed on my clock was exactly eleven! I went running around the house figuring out what to do. If I ran (Lord help me I looked like shit!) it would take me twenty minutes to run over the Santa Trinita bridge (See journal page above), pass the Gucci shop, and clueless gangs of Japanese tourists making peace signs in front of Il Porcillino. I uncovered the useless version of Italian yellow pages and found the pub, called them up and had them look in the street for My Albanian. No luck. Looking back, this all could have been avoided had we just exchanged phone numbers that night, but then, this story wouldn’t be so fascinating.
I was perturbed. How could I have missed a free lunch? I mean, a date?! Later that day, after I carbed up and rinsed the club stink off, I went to the pub thinking he might still be around. No dice. The following days, my carelessness and guilt got the better of me, it was actually driving me crazy. I went out for dinner one fateful night with my friend John, and told him my whole escapade. Why was someone who meant absolutely nothing to me, weighing so heavily on my mind? Why couldn’t I just cast him off as another nobody? After our second or third bottle of red wine, we headed to the streets, because Florence is the most beautiful city to walk around in whilst drunk. Just as we were walking past Piazza San Lorenzo, I noticed in the corner of my eye, a guy who grabbed my attention.
It was My Albanian!
Old me was a very shy person, even when drunk. I pointed out My Albanian to John. Being the good and intoxicated friend that he was, he bellowed out My Albanian's name down the street. I was mortified and embarrassed. When My Albanian came closer, I spewed a million words trying to remind him of who I was and how sorry I felt. He played cool and almost coldly said, “It was okay.” We arranged to meet at a nearby club since he had to change clothes. As John and I headed to the club we found it was closed! Had we been sober, we would have just stayed and waited. But seeing as we weren’t, we thought it better to go wait it out at a nearby bar and get a drink. As I started to panic, thinking we might not see My Albanian again, John exited the café/bar and bellowed out My Albanian’s name once again. At the very far end of Piazza Repubblica, a small figure started toward us…it was him! When My Albanian joined us, Jon made the overtly obvious yawn, announced he needed to head home, and left us alone.
That night, he taught me my first Albanian word, Puth; it means kiss. I would like to say that this was the night I fell head over heels in love, but it wasn’t. I was not to be easily won. He definitely made an impact on my life that night, but it wasn’t until later that the word “love” even came between us. I will say though, it was not me who fell first.
To hear the next story and more, stay tuned. If you missed the beginning of this story,