That's Amore
An Open Letter From Tesha

I didn't intend to meet anyone this year. After a slew of T.M. (Tired Men), I told myself I was going on guyatus (a break from men). Oh wait, I'm a little ahead of myself.

The back story: in September 2006, Fleace Weaver of (now of created Bella Italia, an all female tour to Italy. In just two short years this annual traveling sisterhood has earned a reputation for providing a unique travel experience filled with the mystique that African American women enjoy in Italy that combines cultural exploration, tours, parties and a little mixing and mingling with the locals. (wink)

In May, Fleace starting corresponding with Giorgio, a cute Italian living in Milan about tips on the hot spots in his city. Giorgio was planning a business trip to Los Angeles and suggested the two meet for drinks. Now understand, Fleace was excited about meeting her new Italian friend but did not want him to think she was interested in anything more than friendship. Okay this is where I come into the story. Fleace asked me tag along as the third wheel and block if needed.

When Fleace invited me to join her and Giorgio, for drinks at the W in Westwood, I really didn"t have an ulterior motive other than running interference for a friend. So, I slipped on some cute heels and a semi low-cut red top. I may not be looking, but I still wanted to look cute.

I was the shy one at first, listening intently as they talked about Milan. I had never been to Italy so I was fascinated by their stories. Giorgio then turned to me and asked where I have been. His long hair fell gently over his stylish frames, his smile was very inviting. I told him about my travels around the world, including a 4-year stint teaching in Japan. "Japan? I've been there," he responded. With that, I leaned in closer to him and chattered away over acai blueberry martinis. At the end of the evening, we exchanged numbers and e-mail addresses. I gave him a quick hug, not sure if there would be a next time.

I received the first text the following day. He was checking in from San Diego. We communicated briefly again when he was in San Francisco. Lastly, as he was boarding the plane back to Italy, we said our last goodbyes (or so I thought).

That wouldn't be the last time I would hear from him. A few days later, he sent me a beautiful email, telling me how much he enjoyed our conversations. We soon began emailing each other every day, and soon graduated to Skype (free internet calling), which has voice and webcam capabilities. I couldn't believe how much we had in common, and when he announced he would be back in town, I was eager to meet up with him again.

We agreed to meet in Vegas. He booked a room at The Venetian, wanting to give me my first taste of Italy. I think we were both nervous about our first "date"; I laughed when he mentioned in a text that he made sure to get two queen beds.

The chemistry was instant. I felt as if I had known him forever. When he first reached out to caress my face, I felt a bit awkward. I wasn't used to a man being so affectionate so early. I got over that quickly enough. I soon began to look forward to the hand holding, cheek caressing, and delicate kisses on my hand. I could tell he didn't want to sleep with me; he just wanted to be with me. Every moment brought forth precious memories: the hike at Red Rock Canyon, the sunset at the Grand Canyon, and the craziness of Club Tao. In the wee hours of the morning, he took me to The Venetian's replica of St. Mark's Square. My feet were hurting so I took my shoes off. He insisted on carrying them for me (what!). As I looked around in awe, he told me I would see Italy one day for real. I laughed, only half believing him.

Parting ways was sad. Using Skype helped because I could at least still hear his voice through the computer. To my surprise, he announced he wanted to come back in two weeks for a long weekend. I couldn't believe he was going to fly all the way to L.A. from Italy just to see me! I quickly arranged a romantic trip to Santa Barbara wine country and Hearst Castle. We stayed at a lovely B&B in Cambria, drinking wine in bed at 2 am. I slept very well that night. (wink)

That trip was shortly followed by another weekend getaway to Monterrey and San Francisco. A week after that, we were down in La Jolla and Del Mar. He booked a beautiful suite at the Sheraton La Jolla. I couldn’t believe how much quality time we were having in such a short period.

The biggest shocker was when he invited me to Italy. He made all the arrangements for my weeklong trip. Good thing I always keep my passport up to date! The day before I left, I got my hair done (read: weave). He didn't recognize me at first because of the new hairstyle. After a good laugh and a strong hug, I told him I needed to make a quick stop at the currency exchange kiosk. He said that wouldn't be necessary, as I wouldn’t need any money on this trip. Where has he been all my life?!

He brought me to Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome. He threw in a few surprises as well. We went hiking in the Italian Alps, visited romantic hillside, medieval towns, and dined in Bellagio while viewing Lake Como. I was Juliet and he was Romeo on our visit to Verona. Every glass of Tuscan wine, every regional pasta dish, every cup of cappuccino after dinner tasted even sweeter as I looked in his eyes. I felt as if I was on a honeymoon and I didn’t want it to end. Our last night was spent at his family's country villa. I watched the moonlight shine on his face for hours before I snuggled close and went to sleep. Three months ago he was a stranger. Two months ago, he promised me I would see Italy. Now, I am here in his arms, once again believing in fairy tales.

Yes, I know that long distance relationships can be hard, but if I had dismissed it at the very beginning, I would have missed out on one of the most romantic moments in my life. I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know what will happen in the future. All I know is that the present has been very worthwhile. In closing, I still love/respect the brothers and know there are many good ones out there. I'm not trying to dog those who are trying, however, I will no longer limit myself when defining "Mr. Right." Giorgio, and from what I hear, Italian men in general, are romantic, caring, and sophisticated. If you feel a connection with a non-African American man, go for it! What do you have to lose? Just ask Tina Turner or Naomi Campbell. So, ladies, when looking for the man of your dreams, consider ALL your options and don't be afraid of trying something different. Ciao!

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