She reminded me of a Strawberry Shortcake doll I wanted when I was little. In the beach house my mom rented for our family, it was hard to accept that the toys in the bedroom belonged to some other little girl that I never met. I loved smelling that doll's strawberry-scented hair. For me, that was the most amazing, mysterious, wonderful indulgence. That doll obviously had a big impact on me because I remember its smell so clearly. To this day, I am comforted by perfume, and the smell of delicious food. (Another reason why I love the St. Honore!)
That was the first time I remember feeling envious. I don't understand why envy is considered a deadly sin. It seems like a normal human weakness to me, and one I am afflicted with quite often, usually in regard to talented musicians. Sitting at the long table, trying to read my book, envy engulfed me once more.
An Italian trio sat down across from me, all very attractive. One guy I recognized from a couple parties I've been to. He asked what book I was reading and I told him, "A Forbidden Passion by Cristina Peri Rossi. It sounds like a trashy romance, but it's actually really good." I returned to my reading, or attempt at reading, when more attractive Italians joined everyone at the table. Loud, animated dialogue and wild gesturing ensued. I wanted to speak Italian so badly, or at least understand what they were saying. The way they rolled their r's was sublime. I wanted the gift of bilingualism and I wanted to connect with people in meaningful ways, like Italians celebrating a chance meeting with other Italians.
I looked up again at the cute girl with hair like mine. She smiled and held up the same book by Cristina Peri Rossi. We were both amazed by this rare coincidence. "She's not even that famous," I said, meaning the author. "I just randomly picked up this book at the library." The other people sitting around the table grew interested in our conversation and started asking about the book. The cute girl told me she read it in Spanish and English and that she loved it. I said, "I was just feeling bad about not being bilingual. Am I missing much by reading it in English?" She said some things didn't translate, but the English translation was good. When she had to go, she smiled and waved good bye. We never exchanged names. I felt the urge to run after her and exchange contact information. (The Italians exchanged business cards.) But I restrained myself. Now I'm wondering what else she and I have in common.
I was replaying that coincidence all day long. There I was, lamenting my lack of meaningful connections with people, and then I made one.