“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Bianca said as she stood up and left the cafe terrace with a curt “goodbye”.
“Bye,” Giulia replied blinking her eyes to hold back the tears.
She watched her best friend walk down the street until she turned the corner at the other end of the square in the little Italian town where they both lived. Unable to enjoy the warm spring sun on her face, she looked back on the conversation that had ended only minutes ago. Why had they gotten so angry at each other, she asked herself. What had started as their weekly get-together, had turned into a quarrel over nothing, leaving both of them feeling hurt.
Meanwhile, one block away from where Giulia was sitting, Bianca dawdled aimlessly through the town centre. She was so absorbed by her emotions that she did not notice the passers-by who saw her crying. Neither did she notice how the steadily nearing dark clouds reflected her glumness. She wondered what had gone wrong in their conversation for them to feel so offended.
I was offended – Steve Hughes
“Can I get you another drink, signorina?” the friendly waiter asked.
“I’m sorry,” Giulia replied, “I was lost in thought.”
“Not to worry. I asked if you would like something to drink.”
Giulia glanced at her watch. It was only one in the afternoon.
“Oh, why not? Yes, I would like another glass of white wine, please.”
The waiter nodded with a smile and went to the bar.
While Giulia waited, she began to take a good look at her emotions. She closed her eyes and asked herself: What am I feeling right now? The answer popped up in an instant. She felt guilty. Bianca had been hurt by something she had said to her. Bianca had told her so, and that is why Giulia now felt as if she had perpetrated a crime. Finally, just as raindrops started to fall, her tears forced their way out and rolled down her cheeks. Around her, people jumped up and hastened into the cafe, taking their drinks with them. Giulia, however, was so absorbed by sadness that she barely noticed that the rain was getting heavier.
Luckily, the waiter arrived carrying a large parasol.
“There you are, signorina,” he said as he placed a glass of cool white wine on the wooden table. Within seconds he placed the parasol in the holder and opened it so that Giulia and her table were protected from the rain.
“It’s just a brief shower,” the waiter said in an attempt to reassure his customer.
“Thank you, you’re so kind,” Giulia said, managing a smile on her tear-ridden face.
“The pleasure is all mine, signorina. Enjoy your wine.”
As Giulia sipped her wine, she began to feel better.
Bianca was not so fortunate. The rain had caught her by surprise in the street. However, instead of running into the nearest shop for shelter like the people around her, she carried on walking. Giulia had hurt her feelings and that made her feel sad. In fact, she felt so sad that she wondered whether she would ever feel happy again. Unaware of how she was playing the part of the victim, she carried on walking until she arrived at the park. There, she saw people sheltering under the plane trees. One of them, an old man, beckoned to her to do the same. She followed his advice, and it was then that she noticed that her clothes were drenched.
Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams
“Here, take this,” the old man said, taking off his jacket and placing it around Bianca’s shoulders.
“Oh, thank you. How kind of you,” Bianca replied, shivering, followed by a short scream when lightning struck an oak standing some fifteen metres away.
It was then that she realized how hard she had been on herself by continuing to walk in the rain feeling sorry for herself. Because her self-esteem was so low, she now felt even more discomfort than when she had left Giulia. It dawned on her that not Giulia but she was responsible for the way she felt. She was the one who had punished herself.
Coincidentally, Giulia gained an interesting insight as well, while she sat on her own enjoying her wine, namely that she was responsible for her own feelings. How she felt depended on what she believed about herself. No wonder she felt bad about herself during her conversation with Bianca. She had let herself believe Bianca’s ‘accusations’, and this had caused a lack of self-esteem.
The Offspring – Self Esteem
As it turned out, the waiter had been right. About ten minutes later the rain had passed away, leaving the people in the town to carry on with what they had been doing. Bianca thanked the old man again, handing him back his jacket, and left the cover of the trees to return home. On the way, she stopped by the oak. She saw that it had been split along the middle.
“You poor thing,” she said softly as she let her fingers glide gently over the inside of the oak that had been laid bare.
It felt as if she was consoling a fellow creature that had been hurt with marks to show for it. At the same time, she realized she was actually consoling herself.
As Giulia reflected on her argument with Bianca and the events that followed, she slowly rubbed her right-hand index finger in a circle along the edge of the glass. It comforted her and helped her to regain her confidence. The argument had been terrible, still, it had taught her that no matter how someone treated her, she had the power to influence how this made her feel. There was no need to feel guilty or offended, as long as she was loving towards herself. Giulia understood this now. She lifted her glass and drank the last bit of wine. It was then that she noticed the semicircle-shaped mark on the table left by the glass.
“Love has embraced me,” she whispered with a smile.
Then, the sun came out, causing the wet streets to glisten in a magical way. Bianca was delighted by it and started skipping the last fifty metres to her house. It was so good to feel differently, she thought, when she did not take people’s words so seriously. I can feel however I want to, she said to herself. She understood that her feelings were mere reflections of how she treated herself. This made her feel powerful. Right then, she stopped, looked up into the sky and saw a huge halo. A smile appeared on her face, accompanied by tears of joy.
“I am loved,” she said with her hand on her heart.
Culaccino – Italian expression meaning: the mark left on a table by a cold glass
Beyoncé – Halo
‘Halo’ by John Nyberg on Freeimages.com
‘Rain Light’ by Fabrizio on Freeimages.com
‘Wood’ by Kathy de la Cruz on Freeimages.com
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