Yesterday I wandered along a narrow lane in an old but pretty town on the Tuscan island Elba, near Italy. Bleached ocher houses, green shutters closed against the late afternoon heat, mottled red-tiled roofs, faded climbing roses, heads drooping in the late afternoon heat, spilling over rusted ornate railings. Laundry fluttering in the warm breeze, every sidewalk crowded with tiny tables and happy holiday makers drinking ice-cold beer or wine, picking at fat olives, reminiscing about the day on the beach. The children sleepy-eyed and sunburned, licking their ice-cream cones. Giant plane trees, the leaves curled into fantastical shapes, brittle like parchment, casting a fading shade over the town. Autumn not far away. Swallows twitter and dash in and out from under overhanging eaves, making ready for their long trip south. The ice-cream cone in my hand melting, sticky rivulets of strawberry sorbet running down my hand. The lane filled with life; shoppers, bicycles, open stores with colorful goods spilling out on the sidewalk. Yet I felt detached from the hustle and bustle of the street. Lonely.
Leaning over a low stone wall, crumbling with small yellow dandelions growing in the cracks, was an old woman. She too gazed at the passers-by. No one greeted her or stopped to exchange a word or two. I saw how to looked after them, with loneliness in her eyes.
“Buonasera”, I said. Her face lit up and she smiled, clasping her hands together she blessed me, saying “Dio ti benedica.” I wished I knew enough Italian to engage in a conversation, to stay and chat awhile. So I just smiled and strolled on.
It’s a little thing, saying hi to a stranger. We all are lonely sometimes, even surrounded by family life. I know I am. I often feel lonely, for no reason at all. Being lonely is not a bad thing. Going for lone walks, dreaming day dreams, sitting under a lone tree, with my thoughts for company.
In my loneliness I am me, and I appreciate that my husband understands when I feel lonely and he let me be.
Today, say hi to a lonely stranger or if you feel lonely, email me.
*This is a creative writing exercise I take part in with a beautiful community of women bloggers.