ROMA: A Love Story
This is a story about a girl; this is also a story about a boy.
The girl grew up in the Traverste neighborhood of Rome, around her friends, and always around her family. She was quiet as a child and almost mute in her teenage years. She liked long floral dresses, the opera, and gelato. When she turned fourteen she began working as a hostess at the family Ristorante, Pelino’s, near The Spanish Steps. Each day her father walks her to work where she stands in the front bringing in tourists hypnotized by the checkered tablecloths, smell of fresh tomatoes, and her flowing dresses. She was felice. She was happy.
The boy grew up in New Orleans, moved to Rome in 2005, started working at Aneteca Ristorante, across the street from Pelino’s Ristorante. The boy started as a dishwasher, then busboy, and then head waiter. It was waiting on the outdoor tourist tables when the boy saw the girl. The boy met the girl in 2006, fell in love with the girl soon after.
The girl continues to sway customers into their eatery, the boy, he dazzles his guests with top service and wine. Between the two establishments there is a secret rivalry, between the boy and girl: only eyes. One day the boy approaches the girl and they go for a walk. They push through the tourists near the Trevi Fountain and flip coins while standing backwards, giggling along with the thousands of tourists doing the same. They travel to Florence, travel to Venice, and then back to Rome. They explore the ancient history and modern sites. They continue to giggle and look into each others eyes.
The girl teaches the boy the language, the culture, and he teaches her about the world, outside Italy. She knows very little other than Italy, but she knows everything about Italy. They eat pizza, drink Cappuccinos, eat Gelato, and drink wine. They laugh together at the tourists. They spend every moment together. With her by his side he is no longer an outsider, no longer a tourist. This is always the thought in his mind. With her he has everything, without her he feels nothing, like a lonely dishwasher.
Years pass and the girl is the same. She continues to work in her father’s restaurant and wear floral dresses. The boy now speaks fluent Italian, understands local traditions, and the history of Italy. The boy still wears Chuck Taylors, but everything else is different. The boy still loves the girl and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. This is always the thought in his mind.
The boy asks the father for permission to propose and his request is granted. In the street between the two restaurants the boy proposes and she accepts. A crowd gathers and cheers, the boy kisses the girl and continues to smile for the next three days. Both are felice.
Time elapses and the girl is sad. The boy attempts to console, but instead she sends him to her father who gives him the news that he is unable to marry his daughter because, he is not Italian. The boy asks about the granted permission and father’s response is that the request was to propose, not actually get married. The boy asks permission to marry and the father says no and pats the boy on the back. He says Tradition is more important than love. The boy cites countless love stories, but the father shakes his head and tells him that those are stories of the world; those are not stories of Italy, and they are certainly not stories of Rome.
The boy approaches the girl and tells her his plan. They elope, they move, they stay. One focus-being together, this is always the thought in his mind. They get married and show everyone that their love is stronger than they say; stronger than tradition. She cries and says it is not possible and that is was never possible. She tells the boy what he already knows, he is not Italian.
In Italy there is love between a boy and a girl and then there is love of family and tradition. This is always the thought in her mind.
Roma: A Love Story is one of five fictional stories from the book The Italia Diary, a travel narrative with inspired fiction. For more information go to http://www.fearandloathing.com and http://www.davidsgrant.com.