abio, Fabio wherefore art thou my Fabio? For three dedicated months I have searched for you in the hill towns of Umbria, prayed for you in every bitter cold cathedral and sat in every cypress-lined park waiting for you to pass by. How can three months go so quickly when the heartbreak feels like an eternity?
The sacrifices I have made for you during this search are limitless. I have scoured every cantina from Umbria to Pisa only to find empty bottles of Montefalco Rosso and Chianti in my trash the following morning.
I have spent hundreds of euros on Italian lessons only to be able to order and eat the entire left side of a menu and ask for extra cheese. I have chased porchetta trucks, purchased biscotti in bulk and kept Prosecco chilling for your arrival, yet never once did we dine together.
I have sat in Italian cinemas pretending to try to learn Italian while wearing night vision goggles — only to see the couple in front of me locked in local amore‘s heavy embrace. I have snacked alone on dolci and sipped vino from a plastic thermos.
I have had no shame in my search for you, Fabio. My lowest point was marathon day in a fine-leather shoe store pretending to buy Zellis for the son I do not have. Well, perhaps not my lowest point. I did stand outside the polling booths on your national election day hoping to see you doing your part by voting for a comedian as the next president of Italy. But the joke was apparently on me.
Was it really just three months ago that I sat on the floor of the Stanstead Airport in England throwing items out of my suitcase to make the Ryan Air weight limit for my flight to Italy in search of you? Fabio dearest, I threw out a leather jacket to offset the weight of the lingerie I packed for my romantic nights that never happened.
I even tossed my organic shampoo so I could keep the organic mudpack for my aging face. What did that get me? A very bad hair day and leaving Umbria with mud on my face.
Was mine merely a logistical mistake in coming to Umbria and not Tuscany, where Cortona is? Who is this Frances Mayes who wrote “Under the Tuscan Sun,” a book that sent so many women packing up their belongings in search of Italian lust (never mind “Eat, Pray, Love”)? I even practiced riding a bike with a big floppy sun hat so I would be prepared for the picnic under the shimmering olive groves with my Fabio.
This Herculean effort to find you, Fabio, started long before purchasing my passage to Umbria and months prior to those Ryan Air wheels touching down in Perugia. I practiced nightly visualization exercises that brought you to me in dreams. There you were as real as your black Mercedes smelling of Italian leather (plus the leather wallet tucked neatly inside your Brunello Cucinelli cashmere jacket). You were my Andrea Bocelli and I your Sara Brightman. Those dreams were the inspiration for my daily beautification and exercise plan prior to leaving New Hampshire in search of you.
Fabio, while still in America I single-handedly turned the simple practice of the Kegel exercise into an Olympic sport. I proved that certain gym equipment can raise sagging breasts three inches above a tabletop and that two 14-ounce cans of stewed tomatoes can reduce underarm flab to nearly (but not quite) allow for a sleeveless wedding gown, a gown that sadly will remain hanging in my New Hampshire home.
As I sit here in Rome awaiting my flight back to my home I look across to the Vatican and wonder if the white smoke didn’t signify your arrival, and not Pope Francis. I apply my newly acquired visualization skills and there, I see it: The name Fabio as a wisp of white smoke in the blue sky. If only the wind didn’t keep blowing it away.