Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
There are moments in life when you feel the world touch you. When you understand the big things, like destiny, love and purpose...
I was fifteen and wandering the left wing corridor of my high school. After hours, I was probably supposed to be getting batteries for walkie-talkies during play rehearsal and taking my sweet time. Upon my meandering, I saw a nun sitting at the teacher’s desk in my homeroom. (Not as ominous as it sounds. Nuns are pretty much an old habit with Catholic schools.) Something made me go in and strike up a conversation. I sat Indian style on the desk top opposite hers. She talked. I listened. She told me about Truman Capote, how his wife and kids had showed up at her convent one night after he was violent. She told me I should tie my shoe laces and hem the bottom of my pants. She told me about where she went to college; she told me how much better things would be. She told me a couple of books to read- jotted down the names and author on a small piece of paper. She wished me well and sent me back to my life.
Six years later, my Mom took a position teaching art at my old high school, though truth be told it was hers first. One day she came home, put on a pot for tea on the stove top and told me a famous author was coming to talk to the students. She told me the name; I told her I never heard it before in my life. She went on and on about how witty and sharp-tongued the author was- how I should meet her and ask her every question I could. But I was busy. The day she was coming was my 21st birthday. I spent the night getting mildly wild and happy and then catching a 7am flight to Tampa. PS- best week of my life.
When I got back, Mom gave me an autographed copy of the author’s book. Personalized, just for me, wishing me happy birthday and love. I was touched by the gift. I promised myself I’d read it over the summer.
Over said summer, I was rummaging through my Narnia-esque desk drawer and pulled out a crumpled up brown paper bag. Full of junk. Knick-knacks, bobbles, pins, buttons, game cartridges and a folded paper. I opened it up and in Sister Brigid’s handwriting was: Adriana Trigiani- Lucia, Lucia. The very same unread book sitting on my night stand that Mom had given me.
...This wasn’t my first inkling of being tethered to the universe, but it was the first time when its revelation made me emotional. Raw. Scared and excited in the same beat. So much had happened to that girl six years ago. So much had changed. So much remained.
As if this strange occurrence didn’t scream ‘Read Me Now’, I was already drawn to the premise of the novel. Lucia, Lucia is about twenty-five- year- old Lucia Sartori and her Italian- American family living in 1950’s Greenwich Village. It follows her highs and pitfalls with love and loss in a captivating, deep and humorous way. But still, something told me to hold out just a little bit longer.
I didn’t have to wait long. The book called to me after my Uncle Joe’s death. My family from Italy came to the wake, not speaking a world of Italian.(For my thirty- year-old cousin Carmella, it was her first visit to America.) I was excited and pained. With the exception of my Popy’s brother, my Uncle Anthony, I had never seen this part of my family. And they in turn were seeing me for the first time too. I was overwhelmed by their warmth and affection. These people didn’t shake hands. They took my face in both hands, kissed me and hugged me. They looked me in my eyes as they cried and smiled; the family was together and all pain would pass.
I had been waiting for the moment in my life that would call to the book. When I needed a story to embrace me. I knew- trusted- that Lucia, Lucia would be special. The kind of read that you fall in love with. It had to be. After all that, it had to be something meant for me. So when Lucia, Lucia caught my eye on the Friday after the burial, exactly a week after Uncle Joe’s passing, I knew. I opened Lucia, Lucia for the first time, after both our journeys to find each other and it in turn opened me. It restored me, my faith and hope in the earthly and the treasures I could hold on to. And isn’t that true of all magical stories? You can look all your life for the great ones. But they end up finding you. No matter what.
I finished the two hundred and sixty page book that night.