For a Moment

Storytelling can be a way of affirming what we feel, or even changing our own perception of what we have experienced, either as an individual or as a society. The importance of narratives is not lost on advertisers and marketers in 2019. However, storytelling’s value as an emotionally engaging method of communication can be reclaimed by the masses as a means of positively affirming our reality.

I was not entirely happy with my newfound home, Italy. The people were too conservative, the food too plain, the streets too narrow. Then…

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I laughed out loud into the night air when I realize my blunder. I had been thoroughly enjoying the “new route” recommended by Google until things started to look a bit too familiar. My GPS was not taking me to my home, but rather my cousin’s, an hour in the opposite direction. My scooter’s three liter gas tank was almost empty, again.

I pulled into a gas station to make a few phone calls. No one in the city seemed to be home. I refilled my tank, put on a second jacket, and turn back toward my house. My engine is not strong enough to take me on the highway, so I started on the back roads.

The sun was slowly swaying toward the horizon and every ten kilometers I would slow and sway too, following the intentionally curvy roads and roundabouts through small towns, hamlets, villages.

For a moment the air smelled like the fields of corn we used to drive past on the way to Grandma’s house. I rode into the next town, the street lined with churches and houses on both sides. Quickly the scent was replaced with a shockingly strong smell of cows. I felt like I was on the gravel roads near the lakes and farms we went to as kids.

Continuing to drive, just as abruptly the breeze changed to sweet Italian Jasmine, suffocating me in a familiar way like when I was in Kerala.  I saw a bell tower, incompatibly contemporary in its design, as if I were visiting London again and not rural Veneto. A roadside bar welcomed motorists in incongruous English.

Then, nothing. A lengthy quiet road and I, void of the sounds of passengers talking or a radio playing, the only interruption being my motor, trying its best to conserve gas but failing miserably.

I crossed a wide and shallow river, the running water and tall weeds below making the air grassy and fresh. It felt familiar, but this time the memory did not bring me away from Italy. This town that I had never before seen reminded me of Sovizzo, Calmasino, Brunico, Noale… The bridge was paved with cobblestones older than the United States, and the narrow width and unevenness of it made for an entertaining navigation test. On the other side, a defective and dusty sign incorrectly warned me that my speed was too high. I laughed again into the darkness.

An elderly woman walking her dog in the night raised a hand to me; almost a wave.

I am happy here.

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