“You sold your soul to the devil when you put on your first pair of Jimmy Choo’s, I saw it.” – The Devil Wears Prada, 2006
On the third day in Italy, I had come to realize two important things: 1) I had to give up my usual vegetable intake for carbs, 2) I was being absorbed by the fashion. I have always felt a certain allergy to malls. A two hour shopping trip is more than enough for me to call it a day, and go home to my bed. But there was something so addicting about the stores in Parma. I was enchanted by the shoes, purses, sweaters, everything. Nothing looked like anything I had ever seen before. I had the wild thought of returning to Italy one day with an empty suitcase so I can stock up on all my lifetimes essentials…You know, the classic pieces I will be able to wear all my life: black dress, brown purse, fall boots. Plus the essentials for my mother, my sister, my niece, my friend Christy…It is not even about brands or expensive labels. I was still looking for the cheapest deals. It was the style. Parma has got true style.
Hannah and I walked around town that day, looking at pretty buildings and going inside too many stores. After a short nap, we hopped on the bus to go back to the city center. Hannah kept telling me I did not have to worry about buying a bus ticket. But it felt so wrong. “Nobody pays for the bus after 6pm because there is nobody checking.” We went on about this topic for about half hour. I decided I would pay. Even if no one was checking, I was just not raised to do naughty things. So I approached the driver, coins in hand, and he could not have seemed more annoyed by my good intentions. He did not take the money. I have never been so encouraged to not pay. Maybe he did not want to waste time handling money and printing a ticket. Bus rides are not free, that’s for sure. Hannah laughed as she texted Francesco the story. I felt so corrupt, but with a legitimate reason.
We arrived in the city center just in time for the power outage! Half the lights were gone, Mamma Mia! This is Italy. I felt bad for Hannah, who was down with a terrible cold, yet still had the goodwill to take me out in the freezing night to see some pretty lights. My favorite part was the globe, which looked absolutely beautiful and full of meaning during this time in history.
For the last dinner in Italy (and it must be mentioned), Francesco made what in Spain we call chuleta de cerdo y patatas. Pork and fries. AMAZING. I wished I had two stomachs! We had dessert from the most expensive pastry place in Parma, and I was almost regretting the splurge. “Yolo,” said Hannah.
The next morning I got on the train back home. I cannot believe that “back home” means “on my way to Madrid…” But… 🙂
Looking out the window, I kept seeing all these houses that are completely falling apart. Half the ceiling was missing, bricks were spread out on the ground, half the walls ruined. Nobody could live there anymore. I would not even advice a quick walk into these places…But…that doesn’t mean they are useless. I know that if the remaining of these structures were to be demolished and cleaned up, the entire space would be different…It would be void of something special, unique. It would never, ever be the same. Void. Forgotten. No. Leave the crumbling walls as they are. They are perfect. The place is whole and complete with its missing roof.
I left Italy feeling completely inspired. Not just by its beauty, its taste, or its sound. I was inspired by Hannah and Francesco. Their kindness toward me, and the love they share. They share a love that frees the other to be exactly who they are, with the outstanding qualities and the crumbling walls. Like the ruins I passed by on the train ride to the airport, one could still exist without the other, yes. But it would never, ever be the same.