Walking through the streets of Milan, Italy with JD four years ago, I stared into horizontal windows filled with pointy shoes and silk scarves. Pigeons cooed on the cobbled streets and mopeds zipped by. I had always dreamed of visiting Milan during the fashion season; where the haute couture stores are littered with super models and European movie stars. Standing in the blazing heat of an Italian summer, I was a few months too early.
The town was a lot quieter than I imagined. Smokers taking a noon drag, women maneuvering the uneven pavement in five-inch heels, and men looking like they walked off the pages of Vogue. I felt very American in my I’m-touring-Europe walking shoes, toting my non-lambskin leather sidebag, and so-last-season sunglasses. The only thing missing was McDonald’s golden arches behind American-sized waist.
Let’s start shopping, I suggested. JD and I visited Europe knowing we were going to frivolously spend, injudiciously eat, and live each day as if it were our last. Where do you want to begin, JD asked. He already knew the answer. When in Milan, do as the Milanese…shop Armani. On the train ride to Milan, I made a mental checklist (I live and die with checklists) of every store I wanted to visit. Emporio Armani topped the list. I was determined to buy JD a designer suit before he began his job at an environmental mitigation firm in Orange County, and—in honor of frivolous spending—I was sure it was to be Armani.
After the Italian frizzante was served and the seamstress beckoned, JD found his suit and it was mailed back to the States later that day.
As our trip came to a close—and much after JD had put up with my I’m-going-to-die-of-thirst, Are-we-there-yet, Just-five-more-minutes-I-promise—I wanted to buy JD something to express my appreciation for his companionship. A surprise. A just because gift. I was in no financial situation to make such a purchase, but I decided to live that day as if it was my last. I woke up early and made my way to the Gucci store. There I bought a crimson necktie sewn carefully with silk stitching that formed tiny G’s over its body. The tie I saw JD fondling a few days prior.
I hid the tie for the next few days in my cavernous suitcase, but took it out the day we were to return to the United States. I planned on giving the tie to JD once we boarded the plane. The minute I was no longer able to return it. I kept the black Gucci bag hidden under my airport chair and waited for our flight to be called. When boarding time arrived, I quickly grabbed my bags and boarded. Once the plane left the tarmac, I turned to JD and uttered what I imagine was a profound piece of oratory love manifesto...of sorts. I could be wrong though because my speech was clouded by my near shriek when I didn’t find the bag. The bag that was supposed to be under my chair along with my carrry-on.
Maybe I cried. Maybe I was angry. I don’t really recall. My overwhelming thought was that I deserved it. I deserved losing the tie. I held onto something believing it was a symbol of my love and gratitude. I trusted that something perishable was proof of my appreciation.
I promised myself that day that I would never, ever hold onto something so tightly again. For in holding tightly, the thing I so desperately want to keep may end up slipping away. This is a mantra I hold dear in every aspect of my life, including my business.
Looking back, I’ve never been so happy to lose something so dear.