He, Dante, the so-called, Italian heartthrob was the pompous new boy in the block. He was desirable, down-to-earth and the most admired, cool guy in class. He had a charm that was so effortless, so macho, it seemed like he was born with it. Everyone enjoyed his company, including guys who wanted to be his friend because he was so cool, funny and loyal. Every girl in class competed eagerly for his attention and to get a glimpse of his suave smile. He knew how to talk to girls. He was a proud Italian-born, risk-taker who ventured into the United States to experience how it was like to be in college with people who are in his age. At least that’s how he saw it.
The real story was, his father, Mariano de Bella, sent him to the States to pursue a medical degree. Mariano wanted his son, Dante, to follow his footsteps in becoming a doctor. He believed that Dante will one day inherit his practice and he won’t worry about another outsider ruling over the family business. He believed that Dante was capable of becoming a doctor and will one day make him proud. Mariano didn’t know that Dante was eager to come to the United States, not to fulfill his father’s wishes, but to have the freedom of finally take full control of his life. What Dante didn’t know is that the choices he’ll make in his life, from the day he boarded that plane to Washington D.C., will someday not only affect him, but those people he has yet to meet.
On a Saturday night in the last days of December, Mariano accompanied Dante in Bologna Guglielmo Marconi [International] Airport, to bid him goodbye.
Mariano: I hope that you become the man I expect you to be. My son, you’ll realize that I am pushing you to become successful because I want the best for you. You may not realize it now, but someday you will. You are my only son, the fruit of all my joy and hard work. Ti amo mio figlio.
Dante: Papà, I understand. Thank you for giving me this opportunity and for trusting me. I will not disappoint you.
Mariano: If your mamma was here with us, I’m sure she’s very proud to see you become a man who takes responsibility of his future.
Clara de Bella, Dante’s mother, disappeared in a plane crash on the way to London when he was only 7- years- old. Clara was a famous Italian violinist, who was going to perform with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall for a Spring performance. On the day when Clara was about to board the plane for London, Dante remembered her emerald silk scarf, that hung so beautifully on her slim, long neck. She stood out among the crowd in the airport because of her radiant smile that reflected on her scarf. Dante vividly remembered his mother lending him the silk scarf that she was wearing. She said, “I’ll lend you this scarf and I hope it’ll keep you warm and happy while I’m gone.” Little did they know, that was the last day that they ever saw each other again.
The 12- hour trip from Bologna, Italy to Washington D.C. was very uneasy to Dante. He didn’t know if he was going to have the same fate as his mother: dying from a plane crash. He couldn’t sleep because he was afraid that the plane was going to crash any moment. A slight turbulence disrupted him and almost always, brought him to the edge of his seat. In the last 4 hours of his flight, his body grew tired and he finally let his inhibitions go. He fell asleep so peacefully as if he was floating among the clouds, far far away from Mariano’s reach and far away from the comfort of his home.
When the pilot’s voice broke the slumbering silence of the passengers in the plane, the sun was slowly peaking through the wintery dark sky and shining light to the welcoming sight of the Washington Monument. The pilot announced joyfully, “Our arrival to Washington D.C. is on time. The time is now 6:00 am Eastern Standard Time. The temperature is 40 degrees fahrenheit, high 47 today. In behalf of Lufthansa Airlines, welcome to the United States of America and welcome back to those who are finally home.” Dante arose from his sleep, feeling refreshed, and ready to brave his unknown journey to a whole new world.