I cried exactly five times when I was in Italy. The first time was during my first week there. I sat alone in my flat on a Friday night eating Barilla pasta and red sauce, feeling more Lana Del Rey than ever before. I was lonely because I was alone. The next three times were in Il Italiano’s Peugeot outside of my flat in Valtesse. All three of those times were rainy nights with “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey playing on Radio Bergamo.
The last time was my last Friday in Italy, about three months after my first Friday alone. In between that first and last time, I never spent a Friday alone again until that point. I was learning how to be alone again, but these tears were more tears of happiness than sadness. I realized that, scary as it was at the time, I was finally okay with being on my own. At least, I thought, I learned how to be alone without being lonely. Everything had come full circle, but I was back at the start with a whole new point of view.
This is how I ended up in a flat 3,000 miles away from home. The Ex-Boyfriend and I intended to study abroad together, but when plans fell through, I decided that I still needed to take the opportunity to see new sights and refresh myself. After the Big Breakup, I lived in Italy for three months to study tourism at Universita degli studi di Bergamo. I lived in a flat in a city called Bergamo outside of the city center. The street was called Via Samuele Biava, and right around the corner a few blocks down past the ufficio postale lived my friend Il Italiano. He taught me how to cry.
He knew that I was jaded, that I had been keeping skeletons in my closet for years, even beyond the Big Breakup with the boyfriend who broke up with me over Skype. It became clear to him that there were some mysterious emotional issues that I needed to work out. It became evident to Il Italiano and I that this whole crying-in-his-Peugeot-in-the-rain-listening-to-Lana-Del-Rey-thing started becoming a weekly event. Who knew that it rained this much in Lombardia? Who knew that “Born to Die” would become this popular here?
As my French friend liked to coo in a French-British hybrid of an accent, “Heerree is the poooint.” So, my readers, here is the point: I had to learn how to let go out preconceived notions that crying is weak. Crying isn’t weak. In fact, it proves that a person has been through so much, perhaps too much, and there comes a time when holding it in does no good for anyone. The built up anger, frustration, and sadness was not worth the pride of saying I wasn’t a sappy crier.
I learned that being jaded was overrated. I was trying will all my might to appear as this aloof Alpha Female with a noble, holier-than-thou attitude when really all I wanted to do was to be cuddled and eat gelato. Ah, but neither of those options were what would help me grow as a person. I belonged somewhere in the middle between crying in a bathroom stall and holding my head up high while figuratively throwing my cares to the wind.
On that note, I leave you with Charles Dickens.
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
Thank you to Il Italiano. Thank you for teaching me how being feminine is still strong. Thank you for teaching me how to start fresh again.