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I’ll tell you a story. 

A Winter love story that took place in a café in the center of Zurich.

Α few meters away from the main train station there is a place where I love to sit and watch the activity of the river on the Limmatquai. 

Monday morning. 31/01/2021. 07:45 

Cloudy and rainy. 

The morning patrons are locked inside with cups in their hands. Looking out in the sky.

A snowfall that has been predicted but no one will believe this information.

The iPhone managers should hire more qualified weather forecasters.

I park my bike outside the Grande’s terrace. I forget to lock it because I’m running to catch the special seat in front of the window overlooking the pedestrian- Muhlsteg bridge.

A fresh brave piece of banana bread and the latte that the amazing barista Patrik Varda makes for me, land on my table.

The song “Move on UP” by Curtis Mayfield plays over the loudspeakers.

Mondays are great if you find for yourself that half an hour in the morning at the beginning of the day.

I have my face stuck on the big glass window hypnotized. 

I paint a little heart in the dampness of the window.

I’m sure you do that sometimes too.

Or at least you used to.

Under the red and white striped awning, two crazy lovers folded in woolen Swiss blankets.

 They are enjoying the frenzy of January, 

I raise the camera but I regret it & put it down immediately. 

He’s about 70-75, years old,  well-dressed. 

His scarf is a work of art. Lovely white hair. Thick, well-combed. 

He smokes every cigarette with such pleasure. 

The charm and a certain confidence are still there. 

You can see it. He has already ordered an espresso and is looking anxiously into the bar for a dessert. 

The addictions are etched on his face. 

And then …. The Woman. 

Younger for sure. Maybe ten years. 

Red hair, white skin, freckles. Green eyes. Perfect figure. 

She could be an actress in a French movie. 

Of course, she smokes too & looks at the man with a smile but also…with sternness. 

The waiter brings her the green pal cup with cappuccino that goes perfectly with her pink pal woolen gloves.

I pick up the camera again. But no .. I regret it.

When the door opens I hear them talking in Swiss-French.

 They seem to be arguing about something. 

They’re laughing & arguing at the same time. 

Ordering the much-desired dessert. 

She doesn’t even touch it.

He flattens it with his fork. 

She scolds him but laughs at him at the same time. 

Maybe it’s an old habit. He devours it voraciously. 

The wind blows their blankets and their hair. 

The rain sends only a few drops on their faces. 

He can’t open his newspaper. 

The pages swell like a balloon and he tries to keep them hammered. 

All the patrons now watch a large two-page spread fly through the sky. 

She of course helps him put it together successfully. 

Not exactly successfully. Maybe with some losses.

Grande’s striped awning is galloping. 

We all now pray to God that the tent is not blown apart by the wind. 

But the couple is calmly enjoying their coffee. They pay no attention to the awful weather.

The song “Distance” by Emily King goes perfectly with their image. 

In this bar, the music is a companion to the city and to what happens to its inhabitants.

I don’t know why as I get older the sight of any aged couple makes my eyes glaze over. 

Young, middle-aged, older straight, gay, couples parade by my eyes. 

But all of them have  one thing in common: 

“One of them seems to love the other one more.” 

One of them is more the guardian of the relationship. 

But please, can you ever imagine what would happen if there was the same degree of love for both of them? 

If they both loved each other with exactly the same passion? 

That wouldn’t be “love”. 

It would be a volcano. 

So I feel the same thing is happening with this couple.

While I have to leave and go to work, I decide to order another cup of coffee and say goodbye to the January couple in no hurry.

He looks at his shoes. 

His face now is disappointed. 

Thoughts make his smile dull.

 A grimace betrays an unbearable physical pain. 

He’s talking in her ear. 

It’s obvious … asking her for something. 

My coffee arrives. I sip it all at once and don’t stop looking at them. 

I feel like I’m in a movie theater in this window of Grande’s. 

She looks at him in absolute peace. He almost looks at her pleadingly. 

The man makes an effort to move by bending down.  It’s obvious that an agony prevents him. 

She gets up from the chair & smiles conspiratorially.  

Her gaze, like a radar, catches my eyes watching her. 

I pretend to look at my phone but I am sure I am not convincing her. 

The woman stands in front of the man and looks at his shoes. 

She slowly bends down, kneels down, and in a slowly theatrical and ritualistic way ties the laces of his left shoe. 

Her movements have rhythm. It is not a joyless process for her.

It is as if she is tying a knot, her heart with his foot. 

Her heart is connected to his tread and gives him energy.

The lace of his shoe wraps around her heart and they fly together.

When she finishes, she stands up and he smiles happily at her. The man is grateful. 

A taxi parks in front of the café. The driver opens the door and helps the man into the back seat.

 The woman supervises the movements and sits next to him.

The black cab is gone. 

The two rooms of the “Grande” are washed by the smell of coffee. 

A florist is putting the week’s fresh flowers in small jars. 

I have to go. I take a last sip and look at the painted heart on the window. 

It has become a shapeless pattern of running drops. 

I put on my coat and look for my bike. 

The city is white and beautiful. 

My heart is full of hope.

This was my Winter love story.

A story about a heart tied with a shoelace forever … in Grande.

                    “Un Amore Grande”

 Dedicated to you.

Have a nice weekend, Sparrows.

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