We walked in silence. It was our last day in Italy, and we had come full circle and had returned to Milan for our flight. As we wandered around Il Quadrilatero d’Oro, pausing now and then to look at the windows of designer stores, I hugged myself to keep warm. I was a little out of pace with S as I trailed slightly behind, but in that moment I didn’t really care. I didn’t care that we were in fashion heaven, or that we were returning to the U.S. tomorrow, or that my fingers felt a little numb. I was irritable and nothing could distract me from the task of silently fuming, even if I couldn’t quite fathom why I had gotten so pissy in the first place.
I only remember the moment of ignition – we were unpacking in our hostel and I had discovered that I had left one of my tubes of lipstick in our hostel in Venice.
“I can’t believe I left it there!” I cried. It was brand new and the perfect shade of red.
S offered her condolences, but the expression on her face suggested that losing a lipstick was on par with losing a pair of nail clippers.
“It was a limited edition!” I added, pouting. I slammed down the front of my suitcase in defeat. “Why does crap keep happening to me?”
In retrospect, I may have been acting a tad dramatic. In my defense, I had been mentally counting off the things that went wrong in the past couple of weeks – dropping my phone and breaking it, for one.
Months after this trip, I honestly can’t recall any other specific incident. Chalk it up to quiet stress bubbling underneath the surface for two weeks. Maybe it was the being in close quarters with another human being for two weeks. It may have been PMS. Or the insomnia.
Whatever the contributing factors, we had finally sparred. Or rather, there had been an exchange of a few passive aggressive comments, and maybe a couple of aggressive ones. That was a lot for us. Ten years of friendship and that was the first heated exchange we had ever had.
With nothing else to say and only a few hours left before it got dark, we decided to head to the fashion district of Milan. So there we were, walking in silence. I was still upset, though I wasn’t sure if S could tell. I had a feeling she knew and was just giving me the space to brood, expecting that it would eventually pass.
It took an hour or so, but the ice eventually melted. We were in an H&M and S had found a notepad on sale and had shown it to me. “I’ve been checking you out!” it read, and followed with a checklist: funny, cute, stylish, etc. It was the epitome of immature, and we laughed about it. And suddenly, we had returned to the status quo. We eventually headed back to the hostel and ordered a pizza. The last one we’d eat in Italy.
Looking back on this trip, a montage plays in my head: getting lost in Milan as we hauled our suitcases around in the snow in search of a train station; grumbling about how gross our hostel was in Florence; sharing a pack of gum and asking each other the personal questions that appeared on the wrappers; going to the Colosseum for New Year’s Eve and holding on to each other for dear life as we tried not to get trampled by the crowd; walking among the ruins of Pompeii and chatting about our families; going to the same over-priced restaurant twice in Venice because one of the waiters resembled Dan Stevens. The quasi-fight doesn’t make it. None of the difficult moments do; not unless I make the effort to remember them. They had somehow gotten left behind.