Bittersweet market / by Christina Rosalie

The bitter sweetness of the day began while parking the car in at the Italian market in Philadelphia. DH got a call from the real estate agent. The house closing which was slated for next week has been put off—for weeks possibly---because the sellers don’t want to be inconvenienced. I tried to let the news settle as I looked out the window at people passing: a lady with strawberry blonde hair and a boy in a baby stroller; an old black woman with beautiful eyes, burgundy lipstick and misconfigured teeth; two Italian men both wearing dark wool coats and laughing. And it all seemed suddenly bland. A hard pit of disappointment pressed up against my solar plexus. I unbuckled Bean and scooped him out of his car seat. I walked a block back and forth waiting for DH to call the sellers to try and renegotiate the date, but came back negative. The seller said she doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BE INCONVENIENCED. Really. Who says that when they’re trying to sell a house? Who? Tense and deflated I snapped at DH in front of the in laws right inside the door of a bustling café where everyone was ordering up lattes and cannolis. With even poorer form, I passed Bean to DH and walked out of the café. I hate it when I’m like that. But sometimes all the racket of this little clan of concerned family makes this worse, not better.

Again I walked up and down the block, past pigs heads hanging in the window with their eyeballs stuck open, the upside down pheasants with their feathers still intact, and the crates full of chard and tomatoes and fava beans. I couldn’t quite get a grip on myself. I wanted to be angry at DH for being tense—but I knew I was being just as tense. I wanted to be angry at DH for having a strained interaction in front of his parents, but I knew I’d caused the interaction. Feeling belly up and angry I sat outside the café with my camera trying to find the color and vibrancy I had expected from the day. Within minutes joined me, and after batting words around for awhile I was able to articulate my fear: what if we loose the house entirely? He heard me and cupped his fingers over mine.

Trying to soak up a city in a leisurely manner with seven people is a ludicrous expectation. Just finding a restaurant took walking back and forth the length of the same block several times and much hemming and hawing. Finally we ate at bistro where the waiter also seemed to be the cook and the host. The pepper and sausage sandwiches were fair at best, but the mood loosened as Bean sucked down linguini and rubbed sauce onto the tablecloth. After the meal we walked the length of the market, poking into spice shops and cheese shops, laughing with shopkeepers and eating aged balsamic vinegar with ricotta salata cheese, and espresso.

On the way back the sky broke open just above the city, gold against gray. So beautiful it took my breath away. And yet I couldn’t get a picture through the rearview window because Bean kept grabbing at my lens. I’m still trying to get the hang of this photography stuff. Sometimes the lens picks up something more exquisite than I notice with my bare eye, and other times the image that I see—the whirling of school children playing in a park, or the fire of the sun melting down around the dark silhouettes of buildings—looks washed-out and brittle compared with the way they really are.

Girl on bike.

Looking for upbeat.

Phasants in the window.

Mural of a faroff place.

Self portrait in the car.

Click here for a flickr slideshow of more pictures from today.