Lesson n.2: to relate with your neighbor
While I was waiting for the suitcases, I could not help thinking about the nun.
In the end it was not so terribly talkative as I had imagined, even now that I was looking at the sliding luggage belt, that austere but at the same time fragile and sweet posture reminded me so much of my neighbor, Orietta.
I remember that when I come back from school and could not find anyone in the house, I had the order given by my mother to go from nearby, Mrs. Orietta, a woman of seventy who lived on the first floor in the building opposite mine. She was the sweetest person I had ever known. It was not the classic old woman, shrunken by time and fragile bones, on the contrary, she was very tall and strong. She lived with her husband and often when I went to her house in the afternoon, I found her friend, also an old woman, always dressed in black, with a gold pendant around her neck with a picture of her husband inside. Both spent hours sewing lace and stoles for the church of San Bartolomeo. They were very nice. They stood in silence, facing each other, next to the huge balcony, which gave them the light they needed to see and sew. In the background they often had the radio on, obviously tuned to a radio that constantly sent the rosary or homilies that they repeated in a low voice. When they did not sew, they went to Mass and when they did not go to Mass they sewed for the church.
I would go to them when I finished my school homework so as not to remain closed at home. It was mrs. Orietta who one day, while I was waiting for the arrival of my mother and my father, gave me a piece of paper.
Usually, like all little girls, I used to draw horses, skies, suns and all that imagination can suggest to you. Often those silences embarrassed me and still hate them, I have always been convinced that when two people remain silent it is because they have nothing to say to each other, which makes me terribly uncomfortable. At other times, however, I admired her, dumbfounded and frightened by that environment that seemed so solemn: that living room illuminated by a faint yellow light filtered by beige curtains on the balcony windows that joined that smell of old, yes , just old. That classic smell that you often find in the homes of grandmothers or aunts. A mixture of the smell of cooking, the smell of closed and the smell of passing time.One day she gave me a sheet of paper and four black buttons and he told me «Try to sew these buttons on the paper, let’s see if you are capable».
I was about seven years.
She gave me the needle with the thread already inserted into the eye and closed with a knot. She told me to let the needle enter the first hole of the button and then turn it so that it entered the second hole and so on.I managed to put only a button of the four that he gave me, about twenty times peeling the finger that I sucked all the time. On that day I put my first button and it gave me great satisfaction. Perhaps, it was from that moment, I suppose, that my passion for fashion began. Anyway, since that day I was more and more hurrying to return home after school, in the hope that my parents had not yet arrived so I could go to Mrs. Orietta and put some buttons as I did after five o’clock in the afternoon when I left home and the intercoms to be able to stay in her company. I had so unwittingly realized my mother’s dream: from two to five I did the homework assigned to school and then instead of going out into the courtyard with my girlfriends, I went to the elderly lady on the first floor.
I became very good at putting buttons.I was proud of my work, I was able to put big, medium and small buttons in plastic or pearly. All the buttons that Mrs. Orietta gave me and then left stitched in the sheet of paper until they were needed for some of her subsequent work.
Looking back on it better, it was like I was doing an internship with her that taught me the art of sewing. She had no children and consequently no grandchildren, so I think she welcomed me into her house like a niece, the one he never had. The day he gave me a piece of white cotton and told me to try and put the buttons there, I felt terribly proud and promoted to the next step. I would return home and my eyes were bright and happy, I thought that one day I would have sewed my own wedding dress, with all those laces and lace carefully put as they put them and yes, surely it would have been full of buttons!
I did not tell much about the progress made in the art of sewing my mother. In fact, I had the perverse idea of making her a surprise and sewing her an evening dress. I swiftly passed from the buttons on the sheets of paper to those on the scraps of advanced fabric to stitch a hem. I was so happy that at that time I took a lot more time from my real grandparents and friends than I imagined. I was living for my future wedding dress that I would have created, shortly afterwards.