My apartment was above a very expensive Italian restaurant. The waiters wore dress pants, shirts, and ties. They wore freshly washed, long aprons and they stood outside on sunny days inviting guests into the restaurant. When they took breaks, they went out back and sat in our shared courtyard, smoking or kicking a lost football between each other. And when I walked by, they stood up and said hello.
One of the waiters was a few years older than me, tall, with dark hair and a nice smile. He didn't say much to me, but he always smiled when I walked by. If I walked closely by, I could smell his cologne mixed with the warm smell of fresh Italian food coming out of the kitchen on a clean tray. He worked there for a week before asking me out.
He picked me up in his car a block away from my apartment and the restaurant. He got out of the car, shook my hand, and opened my door for me. He was wearing a dark, collared shirt buttoned up to the last button, and this time when I was close to him I could only smell his cologne. I wore a backless top and jeans. We went to a bar down the road and sat in one of the booths. I was about to sit down across from him but he told me to sit next to him.
He was from Croatia but had spent the last twelve years in Italy. He couldn't speak English, so we spoke Italian. He told me about work and his country and asked me about mine. I made a lot of mistakes, but he thought it was adorable. He loved my accent and my silly mistakes and he put his hand on my back where my bra was and kissed me after one drink. After that, we didn't have much to say.
He drove me home long after the restaurant had closed and he kissed me and told me he'd see me the next day, in the afternoon when I left to go to work.
And then everyday after that, he'd text me when I was home and ask me to come down and kiss him. I'd open the door to the courtyard and he'd come into the hallway and kiss me. His cologne and the smells from the kitchen. Him pushing the door open before I even got down the stairs. His Italian and his smile.
One night when I was home alone, I wrote him a text saying to come upstairs. I didn't go down to let him in through the courtyard. He went to the front door after the restaurant closed and rang my doorbell. He came up with a bottle of wine and we drank maybe half a glass before he laid me down on the bed and started taking off my clothes. I unbuttoned his shirt and undid his belt, unbuttoned his pants and pulled him on top of me. He kissed me and touched me and I touched him and then I looked down.
I wish I could say that we fooled around for a while and then I told him I was tired and wanted to sleep, and kissed him goodnight and stopped answering his calls. But instead, I told him to put his pants back on and go. I apologized but I didn't walk him to the door.
Of course I still saw him at the restaurant, and sometimes he'd nod at me, but mostly he just went back inside.
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Raquel M. is a student living in Milan, Italy. She loves learning languages, meeting new people, going on adventures, and reading good books with lots of hot coffee. This time next year, she plans on teaching English and Italian to students in Italy.
Cover photo from [PCS Italy]