Chapter 16 – Encircled

Turning and Returning

Dan was larger-than-life. Physically tall, muscular, blonde and British, he went through life at full speed, while those around him were caught up in his orbit like planets around a sun. I quickly became the closest planet in a whirlwind courtship. Perhaps part of the attraction was being such unknown quantities to each other.

That winter and spring with Dan, life was solid and real and uncomplicated. We clicked, paired as “Dan & Beck” to his friends and colleagues, who had welcomed me into their lives when I stopped in London on my way home…and never left.

When his sub-leasers departed, Dan and I moved into his flat near Paddington and I finished writing my Master’s thesis. In early September my parents came over to the UK for our modest marriage ceremony at the local town hall. For our honeymoon Dan was set on revisiting northern Italy where we’d met. Instead of throwing a large wedding, we had rented an old palazzo and invited our friends to stay for a week or two.

We all drove, and as our caravan of cars crossed into Italy, I began, tentatively, to re-appreciate the countryside through the eyes of Dan and our friends. At the rented palazzo we made wonderful dinners; in nearby cities we immersed ourselves in amazing art museums; in hillside villages we lingered over long lunches in tiny cafes.

I was proud that I could speak some Italian now, that I could educate my companions about Italian history, that I could choose the finest wines for our meals. Moscato d’Asti always came first: Dan claimed it as a celebration of our first meeting. But it would forever be a poignant moment for me, even as I felt healed by the wine’s honeyed, floral aromas and its fresh, lightly sweet flavors on my palate.

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