The Jotter Pages is a glimpse into one of my many notebooks. The italics are the actual writings from my jotter. The roman type are my comments today. This entry takes place in Rome, Italy 1984.
Monday September 24
2pm – Have had a very interesting day so far. At 10:30, I went out for a walk. I was wondering why all the shops were closed so I stopped a nicely dressed older man and we had the following exchange.
Jotter Girl: “Signore, a che ora i negozi aperti?”
Signore: “You must be an American.”
Jotter Girl: “Why? Did I say that wrong?”
Signore: “No, you said it perfectly and so clearly that I knew you couldn’t be a Roman.”
Maurilio Varalda was his name and he was probably about 65 years old. A charming man with silver hair as straight as a porcupine’s quill. He was short in stature and impeccably dressed. His face was so welcoming. I was immediately connected to him.
Signore Varalda took me to a lovely place for lunch where we enjoyed the most delicious prosciutto & melon, wine, fettucini alfredo, assorted cheeses and ended our meal with cappuccino. Signore, reminds me of my grandfather. He is so sweet & I was fascinated by his life story. He speaks English, French, Chinese and of course Italian. He has lived all over the world. We talked for hours and had such a nice walk not to mention the lunch. He offered to help me get a job so I can stay here in Roma. When Mom arrives, he wants to take us both out to lunch. Initially, she is going to think I am nuts but once she meets him, I am positive she’ll like him.
Friday October 19
Got up late. Mom had a head ache so I went to the bar & got some pastries for us. At noon, Signore Varalda picked us up and drove us to his home in the north of Rome. We had a lovely lunch served by a young man who was introduced to us as “the Filipino house boy”. Signore’s home was filled with wonderful Chinese art and we were serenaded by at least 25 small birds in cages near the window over looking the back yard.
Maurilio Varalda and I remained friends for several years after that first chance meeting on a street in Rome. We wrote letters back and forth, updating each other on our lives. He was always going to China or coming back from Switzerland it seemed.
The last time I saw him was at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City in the late 80′s when we met for an afternoon at the hotel restaurant. I have thought of Signore Varalda often over the years and have tried to find him several times but with out luck. It was my good fortune to meet Signore that day and he has become a member of a small club of men who I have had a very special connection with.