This afternoon

by Laura A

It’s a sunny afternoon.  I’m sitting in the green armchair studying Italian, with three workbooks spread out on ottomans and chairs all around.  I’m looking once again for those charts with the direct and indirect object pronouns, because they continue to elude me. And those prepositions! Sono di New York, ma vengo da New York. This morning a girl from Brazil brought a birthday cake to share with our Italian class.  We all conversed in awkward Italian, because it’s our only common language. Sometimes the other American and I cheat a little.

The tall living room balcony doors are slightly parted to keep the sun from heating up the room. Down below I hear a little girl and her mom talking to Angelo. The girl is talking in a melodic voice; no, she’s actually singing, in the way of all three-year-olds, slightly out of tune.  I look at Sarie, who is sprawled on the sofa doing math homework, and she grins.  Could it be Nina, now a year older?  I take a peek. The girl I see has brown hair to her shoulders, a bright pink coat and orange hat, and she’s riding a scooter. We think she’s probably too old to be Nina, but we decide to reserve judgment until we see our little neighbor emerge on her nonna’s balcony.

The lui piccolo was back in the willow tree this morning. The workmen started renovation on that side of the building.  That is to say, they brought a pile of rusted hollow poles for scaffolding and then went to lunch. Regardless, birds are singing everywhere.

Alberto surprised Sarie outside her school at noon and they went to the park.

Meanwhile, I did a load of wash and hung it out before class.  It’s already dry.  I have to admit that the old man was right; I did finally kill the Christmas tree.  At noon I stood out on the balcony combing off the dry needles so they wouldn’t shed when I took the tree downstairs.  I had a momentary memory of our Israeli super on the Upper East Side, muttering under her breath in operatic contralto as she swept tree needles from the elevator in December.  But I didn’t mind sweeping needles in April.

Finally Sarie and I both finished our homework.  We decided to walk up to Grom for our first gelato of the year–caramello al sale and cioccolato fondente, because you always order two flavors in Italy. I grabbed my foam-green spring jacket from the closet and immediately found a tram ticket from November 19th in the pocket.  Sarie ironed a lightweight dress with a floral pattern and donned sunglasses. Coats from the morning chill lay abandoned on floors and chairs.  We started up Vinzaglio, under the portici, admiring children and dogs, and ate our ice cream in the sun near the fortress.

For the past two weeks, all the talk has been about the spring that never arrives.  Finally, it’s here.