Nine months later

I went to the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio (Sant'Ambrogio outdoor market) as I have done 1-3 times a week for almost nine months now. And, I mainly go to the same fruit vendor, cheese vendor, butcher, pasta shop, bakery, and grocer each time. I've checked out all the other vendors, but I keep going back to my favorites.

The ortolana (fruit/vegetable vendor) sometimes says hello to me and sometimes she doesn't. Once in a while she'll say thank you to me in Spanish. I assume that she might think I'm Hispanic and I doubt she got that idea from my accent. I'll have to ask her some time when she's in a good mood.

The cheese vendor is always pleasant and still uses the formal you when speaking to me even though I don't to him. The other woman who works there doesn't usually even look at me, but when she waits on me, she can be quite helpful.

The macellaio (butcher) is my favorite. He's an older man with white hair and when he smiles, his eyes brighten up his entire face. Today he asked me if I was going on vacation and told me that he'll taking a week off of work to take care of his 92-year-old mom. He always gives me a discount on my purchases. No matter what the price he takes off a Euro or so.

The woman at the pasta shop is always making me laugh. She told me once how her husband is getting bald and her mother gains weight each time she comes over to her house to eat. I told her that my husband gains weight when I make pasta for him every day. So now each time I come she tells me that I shouldn't buy so much. "Cattiva!" (Bad girl) she tells me as she measures out the pasta for me.

The one girl at the bakery is sweet and always says hi to me even if I'm only passing by and not buying anything. Although I feel guilty for not buying from her, so I try not to walk past too often. For the first time, she asked me where I was from. And my response was (as it always is), "Sono della California." (I'm from California) You'd think I was very proud of my home state or that I think people will be in awe of my being from California, but I only tell them that because it clears up the confusion quicker.

If I tell them that I'm American, their next question is always, "America del Sud?" (South America) So, I just try to make it known that I'm from the US. I could say that I'm statunitense (American from the United States), but I'm not fond of that word and so I never say that. Besides, everyone seems to like California even though they think we all live on the beach and it's Summer all year round. They think California is what they see on Baywatch.

The woman at alimentari is always polite. She yells, "Buon giorno" to me from the other end of her shop. I figured out that she does this to warn customers that she sees them. They used to be very leery of me (as well as every other newcomer) to make sure that you don't try walking off with anything. Since I've been going to her shop, she's been giving me a few tips, like adding a drop or two of balsamic vinegar on fresh strawberries.

It's hard to believe that nine months have gone by. I like to go to the market especially to see all of my new acquaintances. Every once in awhile we get to talk a little bit more and we find out new things about each other and I feel like I'm not just a random customer.

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