I sit down at Café Francesca and notice one server unlike the rest. He seems to be out of place here—like me, working on my computer in a remote area away from the noise. His serving area is far from where I am but he approaches me anyway and inquires softly if I feel comfortable.
Approaching me was his way to converse with someone he imagined to be an oddball like himself. I like his warmth, his small earrings, his nonlinear speech — and imagine an artist behind the uniform.
When I get ready to leave, he motions me to wait and dashes to kiss me on the cheek. We make a nice connection.
Dr. Novelli: I want to recount my steps on the 21st. It was Carlos’s death anniversary. In the morning I walked to the synagogue; it was closed. During the forty-five-minute walk I recovered vivid moments we lived at a faraway synagogue, in our distant past. Exotic Turkey.
At Etz Ahayim, I followed Carlos’s movements during the service, my heart fluttering as I was discovering a new side of him who moved comfortably in front of the altar. Tall and slender, wearing kippah and tallit, that day is how I pictured Carlos’s spiritual self. So many remembrances of that trip. Many tearful moments for me.
At the Gardens I found the spot where Carlos and I recently stood holding hands, looking in awe at the sculpture Awakening of Nature, so innocent and so sensuous.
I recount the strangest, hardest day I had ever experienced; it happened two days after the anniversary had passed. Frightening, surreal moments while I was watching the Christmas tree at the botanical gardens’ Garden of Butterflies.
That evening I had pain in my body and my soul, I said to a friend that phoned me, using an expression I had never used before.