Trailer

There are burn marks where the floor is concave. The green carpet melted as if from ashtrays overturned, the contents mashed. We play in the trailer and avoid this spot. Later we’ll run outside and pull the thin metal apron away and peer underneath. See the bowed flooring giving more from this view. No one says not to and so we think it’s okay to scurry there. When we come out the other side, my uncle’s bakery truck is idle in the gravel. We want nothing more than to climb inside.

Years later, I climb the steps and listen as this new structure echoes within the bell tower. I reach the metal grate and look out onto the countryside, beyond the old walls of San Gimignano. I don’t know why I study the platform where I’m standing, but I do, until slivers align with each successive one below. Segments fit into an image. That’s when the ground floor bursts up through the grate and washes over me. It is film pulled taut on the projector, the clicking sounds falling away into the transition of a scene. The vertigo is startling, its suddenness, then even more so the thought that it had been waiting so patiently inside me.

It will be years before I’ll know the word trailer also refers to promotional footage, a glimpse at the film yet to be released. Until then, I will visit Cinecittà and take note of a huge fake boulder leftover from a Stallone film. I make it a point not to see that movie when it comes out. Instead, I will sit in a dark classroom near the Arno screening “Spaghetti Westerns” featuring a young Clint Eastwood and know that, except for him, everyone in the scene is speaking Italian.

I want to dream in this language.

My first week in Florence, I approach a street vendor and tell her I’d like to buy a fish. She looks confused but then nods, smiling, and hands me a peach. I offer my ten-year old son this story and he laughs. He remembers the twist at the end but lets me tell the story anyway. His younger sister is in the other room sitting at the computer. She wants to learn Tagalog, my father’s language. She has a program to help her. All three of us use it off and on.

She calls out to us now. Tatlo, dalawa, isa?
I let the inflection live inside my head for a moment.
I know she is asking us what the words mean.  
Three, her brother answers quickly, two, one.

I think of the numbers on a flickering screen. A thin, straight line attached at the center of each numeral spirals clockwise. They are counting down before the film begins.

It is here that I want to go back to that moment on my uncle’s truck. There are little pastries filled with custard, some with fruit glaze. Peaches. Pesche. Mga milokoton. They are covered in a translucent wax paper stampled with the bakery’s red oval logo. In the trailer of this memory, the pastries are still warm, as if just pulled from the oven. They are not stale, or past their expiration dates, and they were never going to be thrown away, to never be thought of again.

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