Gelato This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The Upper East Side of New York City was absolutely sweltering in the July heat. A cool breeze blew off the water of the Hudson, and it swirled around my mother, making her bright patterned maxi skirt billow. My thick brown hair, darker then than it is now, was pulled up from my perspiring neck in a ponytail, and I panted as my mother and I traveled down the baking sidewalk, on the lookout for any unique gallery or boutique. It was one of those days when you felt guilty being stuck indoors, seeing the gorgeous day through your window while you sat in the chill air of your house. However, I was wishing that I had stayed inside now that I was actually experiencing being broiled alive.

"Ooh, this shop looks interesting. Lets check it out." I looked over at the store window my mother was talking about.Mannequins modeled trendy fashions, showing off expensive dresses and jewelery. Fashion-minded as I am, , I was actually more eager to enjoy the air-conditioning than the designer clothes.

I walked through the door my mother had opened, and a front of cold air hit me. Clothes hung on racks all around the room, with tables placed erratically, displaying chunky bangles and tribal-styled earrings. My mother scanned the room for any sales racks first, being her usual frugal self. When she found none, she relaxed and began a slow browsing of the room, picking up different pieces, examining materials and price tags. A pair of dark skinny jeans was leaning half off a shelf, almost as if it were being magnetically pulled to my mother. She spotted these, and if she were a dog her ears would have perked up. She hurried over to them, picked them up, felt them, checked the price tag, her usual routine. When they seemingly met her approval, she called me over.

" Skye, go try these on." She ordered me, and ushered me down the dressing room hallway. Left on my own, I pulled the jeans on. They were Joe's, an Italian brand, although the name was deceiving, and they fit perfectly, if not a little long in the leg. I opened the door and looked around for my mother.She was reclining on a cushioned bench down the hallway, and when I opened the door she looked up.I walked down the hallway to her, and she looked me over, spun me around, pulled at the waist. I expected her to make a comment about the jeans, maybe about the price. But instead she said, "I used to be that skinny. I bet you could actually fit into the jeans my mother made me." I was still relatively young then, and I wasn't all that knowledgeable about my family tree, so I asked, "Your mother made you jeans? Thats so cool!"

"Haha yes, she was a fashion designer when we still lived in Italy. She made all my clothes." She smirked, and got a rather gloating gleam in her eye. " Whatever I wanted, I just drew up as sketch, and she would make it for me."

Her expression fell a little though, when she said, " I wish you could have met my mother. She would have loved you so much."

She ended the moment of reminiscence when she said, " Let's get you these. They fit perfectly." She got up, and together we strode over to the checkout desk, where a girl with iron-straight blonde hair rung us up. I got a little thrill when she handed me the shopping bag, and, purchase in hand,my mother and I left the store, leaving the comfort of air conditioning and braving the heat of summer.

We stopped in and out of a few galleries after that, oohing and aahing over pieces of artwork, gathering a collection of business cards. My mother's eye was caught by a large sculpture in one window, so we went in to examine it further. The sculpture was made of metal, and it was formed into the shape of a Hello Kitty wearing a pink and white space suit, and standing on a glowing orb. My mother seemed to find this extremely funny, and she just stood there smiling and doing that strange chuff thing when you don't want to laugh out loud but still want to show your amusement. We explored further into the gallery, the footsteps of my Juicy Couture pink wedges making a dull thudding on the polished wood floor, that echoed up into the space the high ceiling provided.

My mother and I found that the gallery we had stumbled into actually had a very good collection of unique art, and my mother and I poked around, like mice trying to find food. That actually became more literal when my mother spied a box of cookies resting on the front desk, and I practically had to physically restrain her from eating them. At this point we decided that we had better go find something to eat.

The Upper East side of New York City felt like a totally different civilization than New York City. The sidewalks were wider, and weren't crammed with rushing people and dirty beggars. A pleasant, pure breeze replaced the smell of greasy street food, garbage, and exhaust, and kind shady trees replaced looming skyscrapers. Happy couples ambled through the shade , sidestepping little kids skating on the sidewalks while their mothers talked nearby.

A pair of young girls, probably in their mid-twenties walked by, chattering, and at certain points laughing in that way you can only do when you're young, when the weight of life hasn't worn you down. Their voices were carried to us by the breeze, and what reached my ears was some kind of foreign language . and although I couldn't understand the words, I could almost understand the meaning of what they were saying just by their expressive inflections. Between phrases they swallowed scoops of melting gelato, eating out of those bright-colored little shovels that always make you so happy when you look at them. Maybe it was the appeal of talking to an interesting foreigner, or maybe it was just my mother's stomach talking, but she saw these two people and made a beeline straight for them. I trailed after my mother, a little bit surprised. My mother isn't the kind of person that is outgoing with strangers, and I've never seen her just approach someone on the street. But here she was, and as I approached, the conversation that my mother was having with the two girls came into focus. My mother was inquiring about the gelato the girls were eating, and they were responding with beaming smiles and lilting words.

"Are you visiting from Italy?" My mother asked, and the girls laughed again, probably at nothing but the joy of life, responded with a very Italian sounding,"Si." At this point whatever they were saying was lost in translation as they transitioned into Italian, and my mother followed suit, changing out of her American Housewife persona and stepping into the character of an Italian foreigner who has found her kin. Their conversation rolled on, and my enraptured mother seemed to forget about the baking sun and her grumbling stomach as she nodded and gestured with her hands like a true Italian. Of course, I was still affected by the heat and my hunger, and soon I tugged at her arm, signaling that I wanted to go. My mother sadly said her goodbyes, and we went in pursuit of the gelato that had started the snapshot of time that would stay with me for years to come. After my hunger was satisfied, I found myself wishing that I hadn't pulled my mother away so soon. Seeing her with those two Italians was one of the only times I had been able to see a different side of her, the side that was Francesca Lavorato, not Francie Cupig.





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