Thai-aih Nyh-choal-ee and Ste-fahn-yah

The first week I was here, there was a Moroccan-themed potluck downstairs in the lobby of our bed and breakfast. I didn’t know a soul. But then I heard this voice:

“If I had a dog I’d name him Sirius or Padfoot…maybe Moony or Lupa depending on its gender. How perfect is that?!”

Meet Stephanie, a special education teacher and librarian who recently accepted a job at Trenton’s school. Before working here, she taught in Turkey. Her father is a Navy chaplain who retired about a week ago, and her mother is also a teacher in the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school system.

Sweet Stephanie

I don’t know her last name yet. But she chose her house in Nicolosi because she thought it provided her the best option for a tea room/library. Her laugh is contagious after three glasses of wine. And her driving skills scare the hell out of me–in a good way.

Stephanie is the kind of human you take house hunting. When your realtor picks you up from the bed and breakfast, he says, “Thai-aih Nyh-choal-ee and Ste-fahn-yah! Of course you’re friends!” That’s what he calls us: Thai-aih Nyh-choal-ee and Ste-fahn-yah. So much so, that Trenton asked for his own name. Our realtor smiled and said, “Okay Trentonio.”

Stephanie is the kind of human who spends two hours of her Saturday showing you all the machines at the gym and teaches you how to use each one. She calmly explains that the picture on the machine tells you how to use it. When you look at her blankly, she gently shows you and quickly realizes that you’re a kinetic learner.

Stephanie is the kind of human who will drop all of her plans on a Friday evening to drive with you to Trecastagni just so you can check out the town you’re interested in. She’ll get excited over new finds–like cafes and antique stores. When she visits Rome, she brings you rose-scented wax perfume bars and mint elisir, even though she’s only known you a week.

Roman spoils!

Stephanie is the kind of human who makes Sunday family dinners a priority, even when your family is thousands of miles away. Even when you both wear pajamas and don’t wear makeup. Even when you’re tired. Because family dinner is important. She brings vegetables and Turkish dishes while you make fresh fish and pasta from the market. You share fruit and FaceTime her parents, who always have a seat at your table. She brings rosé and is the reason Monday mornings require a little more time to rally for work.

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Family dinner nights

unnamedStephanie is the kind of human who loves reading. Most of your conversations revolve around sustainability and which five books you’re ordering from Amazon this week. You pick up extra books for her at the thrift store and make her an Easter basket. She stays up late with you when you can’t sleep and you watch comic operas and she introduces you to Scarlatti.

Stephanie is the kind of human who finds an 11th century Cathedral and takes you there for an Easter service completely in Italian. She’s the kind of human who wants to hear about your day at work and checks in just to see if you’re doing well. She’s the kind of human you instantly adore and find it uncanny that your birthdays are August 26th and August 27th (mine and hers).

She’s not the friends you left at home. But she’s the friend you met in Sicily. She’s the friend with whom you’ll travel the world. She’s the friend you’ll introduce to your grandchildren as “Ste-fahn-yah” and tell them all about your Sicilian adventures.unnamed-45.jpg

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