The sun was setting at the dog park and Luna’s tongue was hanging out the side of her mouth after running circles through the olive grove with a yellow lab and a border collie at top speed. We walked back down past the garden with enormous black cabbage planted in rows by the fence. In the summer they had about fifty tomato plants hanging in vines in the center of the yard. We went up into the little neighborhood where a house is for sale that I want but it’s 630,000 Euro (wah), and then we went back through the vibrantly spraypainted tunnel under the train tracks and down the street to the grocery store.
I didn’t have a bag big enough for Luna to sit in, so I had to carry her through the evening bustle of the Esselunga and weave around families and an ever-growing amount of tourists to grab the two things I needed and run to the registers. Luna, by the way, is about a foot high but weighs 22 pounds and she has too much skin and seemingly no joints, so holding her is like holding a slippery sack of potatoes while trying to juggle grocery items. This is when I miss the center – they have plastic shopping carts specifically to put your dog in. It’s wonderful.
I picked the line with our friend. The one that couldn’t handle when we had to tell him about Stitch. When the guy in front of me in line saw how little I had he offered for me to go in front of him but he had already put all his stuff on the thing and I wasn’t in a hurry so I said as much but thank you and so we stood there together with him eventually getting to pet Luna for a second after she inspected his hand thoroughly before allowing it. (She’s getting strange around people she doesn’t know. I’m working on it. She’s weird.) The girl in front of him was holding up the line because she wanted to put back a frozen pizza for some reason. The manager came over to claim it and smiled as he saw me.
“Ehi ciao e ciao piccola! He waved at Luna. “What did I call her the other day?” he asked grinning as he held the frozen pizza. Referring to a few weeks ago when he had forgotten Luna’s name and took a wild guess.
“Fragola.” I replied. Strawberry. The cashier chuckled and reached out his hand to her and she sniffed at it approvingly, and then he finished ringing up the guy in front of me, but I was the one in conversation.
“How are you?” he asked in Italian. “I haven’t seen you in forever. How’s Luna been? How’s Rami, is he working?” We talked about the terrible work contracts of Italy as he rang the guy’s credit card. “By the way, your team’s been kicking ass.” I had to configure that out-of-place statement for a second but then remembered that he loved American sports, and knew I was from Boston. I had seen a few memes about the last Patriots game so I knew it went particularly well and there was a ridiculous interception involved, but I honestly rarely watch the games anymore because of the time difference, and also because there isn’t the fanfare around it here. But there are sports bars downtown, you may argue. Yes, and no thanks. Without Patriots or Red Sox nation, it’s not as fun until I get back there with everyone else.
We chatted football as I bagged my groceries and grabbed my receipt and as I left he told me to say hi to Rami for him. So now, I’ve just watched the highlight reel of the Patriots with just graceful interception after another and oh dear Lord the Jets just really didn’t have a chance and it was lovely. I have my reservations about football now and it isn’t because anyone is kneeling, it’s because after watching Concussion, it’s honestly just not worth it to keep this industry, and it is an industry, alive. But, at the same time, when I was just watching those clips and replays and I hear the broadcasters and the crowd and it’s a soundtrack woven into my childhood and regardless of what I think now when I do get spurred into watching it, I can’t help but be that fan that grew up in Fenway Park and Gillette (and the parking lots) and The Garden. It’s still a part of home.
I never thought I’d be pulled back into watching the Patriots game today when I had to go buy milk, but I’m pretty happy about it, Next Sunday, I may just get my jersey back out.