I have had many moments of extreme emotion. Some you may know about like flunking my driver’s test, an explosion in the curio cabinet, and a broken piano leg — and some you may not.

According to my journal, this particular moment lasted almost an hour and happened in Positano, Italy, a terraced town poised on a peninsula along the Amalfi coast by a vertiginous slope to the sea.


Quaint Positano rises up, up, up to houses crouched in cozy rows and leans down, down, down to the snug little village below. We leave the charming hotel, Villa Rosa, to spy out the sights and shopping. Positano itself is dripping with bellissimo scenes: lemons the size of grapefruit, grapes a million, shiny red peppers, elegant shoppes, delikatessens. Cliff wants to check out the sights first and I prefer the shopping, so we decide to meet at a certain time and place “under the bougainvillea” before we go our separate ways for awhile.

Now a host of pergolas of bougainvillea adorn the village, each pergola with blooms that cascade like crimson waterfalls. Of course, I think he must mean the one on the way down the steep street leading into the village.

Upper bougainvillea - where I thought we'd meet

Upper bougainvillea – where I thought we’d meet

In one of the shops, plates of lemon yellow and Mediterranean blue catch my eye with painting on the back “dipinto a mano per alimenti Positano” – hand-painted dish. They come bubble-wrapped so I can snuggle them against breakage between layers of clothing in my suitcase, I think. I can’t decide between the blue and the yellow, so I get two of each, complementary.

Soon it’s noon, the time we agree to meet before lunch. So I meander back up to the brilliant bougainvillea to people-watch and wait for my prince. I wait and wait and wait. No Cliff in sight! That’s just like him – losing track of time when he’s snapping photos. The minutes pass and I’m starting to get mad. The temperature on my “mad” gauge rises even higher as the sun beats down furiously on my head. Why didn’t I wear a straw hat and then I think “Where is that man?”

Mad turns slowly to sad as I realize he must have fallen over from heat exhaustion and now is lying at the foot of the Duomo, his camera case splayed out beside his prostrate body. Oh, my goodness, do they have ambulances in such a small town? I haven’t heard sirens here unlike Rome where horns hee-haw all hours like electronic donkeys. Finally, I convince myself Cliff’s not dead and probably still wandering around. My emotions cycle between mad and sad a few more times until I see a tall, blond man approaching me looking very mad himself, certainly not glad to see me again.

C.   “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you by the bougainvillea for more than an hour now!

M.   “Well, I could ask the same thing. I have been waiting ages under this pergola for you. I thought you might have keeled over from the heat. Where in the world were you?”

C.   “Don’t you remember?  The last thing we talked about was the bougainvillea by the Duomo, so I thought that was the place we were supposed to meet!”

Where Cliff thought we'd meet - by the Duomo

Where Cliff thought we’d meet – by the Duomo

We rehearse the scenario far too long and try to resolve the mix-up by arguing our own points of view, an exercise in futility. What we do agree on finally is a cool place for lunch which for us is a tomato-drenched pasta (larvae-shaped noodles) entré and an omelet. I exchange a pile of eggplant “aubergine” for an “ensalada mista,” garden salad.



I’ll bet you have a story similar to this one but with a different setting or a comment about this one.

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