She couldn’t help not to touch them…They moved softly and gracefully, swaying to the gentle touch of the wind…It seemed to her, as the vast ocean of gold was whispering the original song full of life and sun. She was walking down the narrow country road surrounded by the fields of wheat. Each kernel was made to perfection, participating in the breathtaking scenery, promising natural order of changing seasons, and close relationships between people and earth. Mary was a born and raised in the large city, but she loved to visit the country side, where life was following its own set of rules…. simple, modest and unassuming. Her family would spend their summer months in the nearby, lovely cottage. She remembers her childhood years, filled with wonders of exploration, full of new sounds, scents and taste. Mary was giving a complete freedom to walk and observe…make friends and discover new “worlds”. She fell in love with the busy and predictable life on the farm…the early morning feedings of the animals, days filled with the hard physical labor and quiet evenings, where families gathered around simple but healthy meal. The unavoidable consequence of days followed by nights, then again by days …so close to the natural rhythm and not requiring too much thinking, held a very grounding allure for her. People from the village knew her quite well…she has been visiting this place since she was six years old…Some of the local families treated her almost as their own, when she became close friends with their kids. One of her favorite adventures involved picking up mushrooms…deep in the forest…The local boy, always knew the best places…he would simply brushed away the branches of the trees and shrubs , revealing the hidden treasures. Mary loved the delicious meal, out of fresh variety of mushrooms…sautéed with delicate butter, some spices and enjoyed with the group of friends… and genuine laughter.
She was half awake, but determined to go and buy freshly baked bread… The promise of its fresh smell and a wonderful taste was strong enough to force her out of comfortable and cozy bed. It always reminded her of the golden wheat fields that she liked to touch so tenderly many years ago. The vision of the gold kernels, transformed into flour and baked to delicious perfection made her smile with the appreciation of life simple pleasures. On the days, when her classes didn’t start until later in the morning, Mary would walk to the close by small bakery, awaken by mouth watering smell of freshly baked breads and rolls… She recognized almost the same people in the line…nodded politely and waited for her turn. In front of her, in the line, she noticed the elderly woman with a beautiful silver hair put up high on the top of her head in the tight bun. Her face was covered with wrinkles, but her body was tall and slim. She was holding herself in the beautiful manner…gracefully with the proud and elegant look. Mary was watching her from behind, realizing that beauty comes in all different ages. The woman in front finished her shopping and started leaving in the slow, deliberate movement with visible limp … Mary didn’t want to stare…but she felt the woman’s eyes on her…she looked up , made an eye contact and smiled in the friendliest way she could. The woman didn’t return the smile but acknowledge Mary’s existence looking straight into her eyes.
The simple and delicious breakfast was definitely the right way to start a new day…Mary thought to herself, sitting in her apartment and looking over some papers for school. The weather was cheerful and warm, with slight wind playing a game of gentle movement with the sheer, white curtain hanged in the open window. The classical music of the opera was making its way to Mary’s place…She wasn’t sure what it was...she heard it before and loved it. The woman’s voice was lyrically crying through the arias…making you to pause and give the undisturbed attention.
Mary was thinking about the life and how we, humans complicate it unnecessarily…she looked at the clock and realized it was getting late… Grabbed her backpack and was running downstairs, jumping few steps at the time…She heard the noise of the door being opened slowly and the familiar music begun to fill the hall. Mary slowed down a little in her wild descent to the ground level of the building. She passed someone’s apartment on the rights side, taking a quick look through the open door…the familiar lyrical voice was helplessly sad in its beauty… Mary noticed the older women, she remembered from bakery and without thinking, greeted her cheerfully “Good Morning” she said in happy tone… just remembering last time meeting and the cold gaze from her neighbor. Mary kept going downstairs...now aware of the awkward silence in response… “ Good Morning “ she heard the words following her from behind … Mary turned around to see the silver haired woman looking at her with a little smile and then walking back to her apartment and closing the door behind her….the aria of painful heartache continued through the walls…
The curiosity of the strange and unusual neighbor took the best out of Mary and when she had a chance to ask her landlady, she casually inquired. It was not typical for her to ask about other people, she was a very private person and believed in keeping her nose out of other’s people businesses. The landlady was full of information…According to her, the mysterious neighbor was the well known ballerina….Presently, not dancing or teaching but in the past, the star of the ballet theatre. She had a short but dramatic career involving romantic heartache and then this unfortunate accident…which left her unable to continue her dancing career. Mary was moved by the sad story and couldn’t stop thinking about her. She would imagine how difficult and heartbreaking it was, not being able to do what you love and are good at…She was also wondering if listening to this sad opera had anything to do with her relationship problem from the past…
The large shopping bag was filled with fresh bread and rolls. Mary loved everything this morning …including all kinds of food…she was jumping as usual and taking two steps at the time in attempt to climb to her third floor apartment. As she was passing the ballerina apartment, she slowed down, listening for the sound of the opera …but probably it was too early, she concluded. At the same moment the door opened and the women came out to pick up the delivered bottle, of fresh milk from outside her door. Mary said brightly “Good Morning” and pause for a moment in the hope for the answer. The women looked at her seriously and responded with proper “Good Morning”. Mary’s face brightened up…”maybe they will be friends...one day...” she thought...walking past her and getting ready to climb another flight of stairs…Then she heard herself saying “ I bought too much … I feel like eating…have you been already to the bakery today ?” The neighbor didn’t answer for the longest moment and then she said quietly “No…” “I see…well, I know it’s bad for me, all this bread …but I love my mornings with fresh rolls, lots of butter….” She chuckled apologizing for her obvious overeating… “No…I didn’t mean that” the woman exclaimed softly…” I just can’t walk …too often and too much…” she said in quick manner, hiding her obvious emotions…. “How stupid and unthoughtful of me” …Mary was thinking… as she started walking back toward her neighbor. “Would you do me a big favor ….” Mary took a deep breath….” I really would love to share it with you….I…have too much”
The women looked at her with surprise and the smile showed on her face….” No …It won’t be necessary…but thank you…” she said with sudden tenderness in her voice. “Please…I am begging you …do it for me ...I simply feel terrible”...Mary stated and tried to keep a calm face… which was dangerously close to bursting into cry….The woman looked at her and then moved to the left side of the door, gesturing to invite her in….” Then, let’s have a breakfast together…I think I will like it…It’s been a while…” she exclaimed as Mary was stepping into apartment in slow, shy steps...holding on to her bag of groceries….
The aria “ Un Bel di “ from Madame Butterfly, took the hold of her heart and emotions, every time they’ve listened to it together…. The drama, desperation and sadness were felt long ago after music has stopped. Mary was looking through the window feeling the tears coming to her eyes…not able to move or speak, caught in the drama of Madame Butterfly….Her neighbor, Miss Viviana was sitting next to her, with her eyes closed , gently moving her body to the music, breathing in each note and caressing it with the subtle movement… They’ve become friends in last few months…making their morning breakfast a tradition and celebration of life little treasures…The music connected them orchestrating the moment of their reality, contained in the few walls of Vivian’s apartment ,her favorite operas, fresh morning bread and unusual friendship….with no respect to age difference or personal history….only understanding of the pure and innocent perception of the world. Bounded by human emotions unaware of time or any other restrictions ….
We meet a lot of people on our life journey….some of them will stay with us forever…not only in our memories but also, in every bite of the freshly baked bread, the amazing music from our favorite arias….and the feeling of the connection withstanding the test of time and space….She will always be alive and beautiful in Mary’s eyes ….that’s how she will remember her, until the last step ….toward the gold fields, whispering of people and stories from the past and gently dancing the eternal dance of life…..