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Italy

She told me the first night we met that what she hated was more important to her than what she loved.

Story by Siamak Vossoughi - siamakv@yahoo.com Photos by Muge Karamanci
Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

She would look out my window and say, “It looks like Italy. Is that Italy?” I lived in a third-floor apartment and from the window you could see the neighbors’ backyard, which had a lemon tree and a fountain and well-kept flowers. It took in the evening sun of San Francisco beautifully.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

She would ask me if it was Italy and I would smile because it was such a wonderful thing to say but she would only look confused, because after the break-up of her marriage she had sworn off love more than I would have thought any woman could.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

She wouldn’t give me an inch. She wouldn’t tell me about the man or how it ended or why it had been such a last stab in the first place, because the thing in her that had sworn off love, it wasn’t new, it had been in her from the beginning. Love had given her the energy to fight it for a long time, and then it didn’t have enough to do that any more.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

What could I say? It wasn’t as though she had pretended otherwise. She told me the first night we met that what she hated was more important to her than what she loved.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

You would’ve liked to meet me when I was twenty, I thought. I almost said it, but I thought it would sound condescending. But that was the time when I thought that love was when two people hated the same things. I just hadn’t been able to carry mine around in expectation after a while.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

The only crack in her armor was Italy. I thought it might be the start of everything when she asked me that, but she would have such a look of confusion on her face, as if the words were coming out of her without her knowing why or how, and I would feel miserable to see how hard she was working in her battle to swear off love. What a constant battle it must be, not just in my apartment, but everywhere and all the time. Sitting in my apartment ought to have been a break from it; it ought to have at least been a place where she didn’t have to fight. But she didn’t know she was being wonderful when she asked it,. And I didn’t know how to tell her that I didn’t know a lot about love, but I did know that if you looked out a window in San Francisco and you didn’t know how a neighbors’ backyard could look so much like Italy—which it did, which it really did—that it was because of the person you were sitting in the room with.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

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