As was often the case during my Italian crisis, good news and bad news would hit me when I least expected it. Perpetually off-balance, the two years of the court proceedings bandied me about in the legal winds with no concern for what I wanted. The ending would be no different. After almost a month of back and forth arranging for the wire transfer of funds owed me from Milan to my bank account, on one memorable March Saturday, I received the mobile text “funds received!” like something straight out of a Chase banking commercial.
I remember this for several reasons. First, I’ve never received a wire transfer before. Second, I couldn’t quite believe I had received money that had technically been in Marco’s possession at one point in time. Third, I was wearing a mud mask and my gym clothes and when I started crying, the mud mask became gooey in parts and dripped onto my yoga pants. But lastly, and bestly (my word), the deposit of funds signaled it was time to reward myself by way of purchasing the exquisite leather handbag that practically called out to me from the window of a nearby leather store. I had thought about it for days.
Haphazardly wiping the green mud mask off my face, I flew out my door and down four flights of stairs to the street. I was singularly focused on purchasing that bag. Mario, the well-heeled Florentine merchant whose boutique displayed exotic and beautiful leather bags and coats from his beloved Firenze, could also sense my determination. You see, I passed by Mario’s store every day on my way to the gym and waved to him almost every night on my way home from work. His was the kind of store where they don’t use price tags. The kind of store that makes middle-class gals like me nervous, giddy and suspicious all at once. I always felt Mario knew I wasn’t the caliber of shopper he was used to, and he never seemed to press the matter. But on this day of days, with my green speckled yoga pants and green speckled face, I stormed into his quiet store, stared him straight in the eye and told him I was there to see a man (him) about a purse (the mocha brown one with the chocolate fringe and handles).
The mix of surprise and dare I say, revulsion, at the state of my person in his fine leather goods boutique gave me a weird satisfaction. Because we both knew I was walking out of there with that purse even though I had remnants of green mud mask flaked in my hairline (an assault on Mario’s refined sense of personal grooming). As Mario launched into a speech about the quality of the bag and how it is one-of-a-kind, made by his friends in the finest shops in Florence, I cut him off mid-sentence and told him to save it. I’d pay $500 and not a penny more because I had shoes to purchase as well. A man like Mario respected a woman looking to match her shoes to her amazing purse, and grinning, he handed me a big, purple bag with my fancy prize inside.
What followed can only be described as…the shakes. I brought the bag upstairs and placed it square on my living room floor where I then circled it like some perplexing piece of modern art at a museum. Here was the only material thing I had ever gained from my two years’ battle with a man I encountered for about 5 hours of my life one terrible night. This bag represented all that wasn’t me, just like that night represented a lapse in judgment that wasn’t me, and so, it seemed right to me. What didn’t seem right is if I had used that $700 on items such as groceries or my phone bill, or dry cleaning. It needed to be a statement piece, not the typical fare I pick up at Target or Macy’s.
Almost a year later, and the bag and shoes in question remain safely tucked away in my closet. I feel no desire to use them overly much. I just like knowing that I have them. And it helps to know that the man I bought them from wrinkles his face at the mere mention of the sub par (to his Florence) city of Rome. Tickles me silly, actually. Marco got his ass beat by a girl, was humiliated in front of his family, was pursued for two years in court where he pled guilty to all the charges and had to pay for my attorneys who brought the charges against him on my behalf AND indirectly bought me two fabulously frivolous items from an anti-Roman so that they could reside in my closet. Yes, that works just fine for me.