Sandy is on Camino for a month and here I am, in the shocking first month of it all, the first 30 days of relocating to Lucca.
Part 1 – Home
I’m absolutely giddy looking out the kitchen window to my garden. I’m home in Edmonds, WA. But something’s odd. ‘What? How did I get here?’ I thought. ‘Why are there rose-colored calla lilies popping up, now? I don’t recall planting them in that spot . . . there are so many of them. And then I woke up.
I reached down to pick up buddy love, Mr Man, my buff Tabby cat, his strong body elongating as I lifted him, his big paws just leaving the ground. Before I get him into my arms, I woke up, again, this time for real.
The house goes on the market in a few days and my subconscious has relegated it to the land of my dreams. The land of Mr Man. The dead. He is buried there and I’ll be leaving him behind.
‘It’s going to be a rough day’, I thought as I made my way to morning coffee. ‘Hope I don’t start bawling in my Italian lesson.’
I start bawling in my lesson.
Part 2 – The day to day
I’m reverting to a feral state. Not washing my face. No make-up. Except my savior, lipstick, which is becoming well documented.
Sephora: I’ve managed to grow a Rudolph sized zit on the end of my nose. Maybe it’s not that bad? I decided I’m being dramatic, and besides, I’m semi-feral. I want to go to Sephora for, guess what, but I also want the name of someone to cut my hair. I figure who better to ask than the impeccably groomed gay man working there.
He comes up short, he does not live in Lucca, but assists me in some purchases. The next morning I realized I had not emptied the Sephora bag and something was still in the bottom. I turned out the small tube. It’s a sample of concealer. My shade.
Food. Need calories, eat calories, that’s me, the functional eater. I dislike the feeling of being full and one of my measures is how my guts feel after eating. Only on occasion are pasta and I friends. It’s a dilemma living here in Italy, but weirdly, which means out of desperation, I discovered Bugles, the horn-shaped corn chips, and I can co-exist. Is it their shape, and that they make terrific finger hats? Is it all the additives and preservatives ? Perhaps it’s because they are made of corn with a hefty fat content? All possibilities, but they get bonus points as they go well with prosciutto.
Cats. We have a corn kitty litter for the cats. It’s compostable, contributions made by the cats and all. I don’t know why it makes me so uncomfortable adding this concoction to the food scraps that go into the bio bin, but I can’t seem to shake it.
Manners It’s really not okay to make an employee suffer while you practice your Italian on them. It’s better to cobble together a sentence with their understanding of English than it is to exercise your desire, and sound like you know something. Just point and let the non-language teacher get on with their real job, which is not helping you with your grammar and pronunciation.
When signing a new lease it’s not uncommon to go to the bar next door and celebrate with un caffè if it’s during the day, or a drink in the evening. Get a single shot espresso like your hosts, not a caffè latte, so you can down-the-hatch it like the best of them. Then everyone can go their happy way, instead of waiting for you to hurriedly slurp down all that milk for the next 10 minutes.
Men I can not get enough of the older, suave Italian man look. Loafers, no socks, slim pants, and a button down. Tuck in the shirt, and for added effect, hold your cell phone to your ear while drifting in the middle of the cobblestone roads, looking completely cool. If I have my way Sandy will be sporting it soon. The key to this look? Socks. Who knew they were so authoritative, and if you make the mistake of wearing them, they murder this classic ensemble.
Stuff It’s astonishing how much of a day is filled with fluff when you don’t have a job or routine. It’s a little rough when you are purpose driven, and a bit lethal when combined with the realization that although all things have a place, your things don’t have a place yet, and you find them in the weirdest spots. If you find them at all.
Part 3 – Some things can’t be unperfected
I didn’t know this, but learned while in college, that some music just can’t be screwed up. I was in a piano performance class, a peer sat at one of the epic grand pianos that populated the building. She was playing Chopin Prelude #4 in E minor, and she was butchering it. I cried anyway, in spite of her rendering. Some things are so beautiful their beauty cannot be undone.
And so it is with Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. It doesn’t matter how sideways the singing, the perfect wording and the perfect melody cannot be unperfected. I just walked by a guy who proved it. Despite the music critic that lives in my head, I choked up.
I’m eating in the Anfiteatro and a third piece is testing my theory, the Bach Cello Prelude, Suite #1 in G, by the guy I think of as the Elvis impersonator; he sounds just like him. He’s stopped singing and is simply playing the cello; now he looks like Yanni. I am aware my emotions are filling in the imperfections like spackle making the melody smooth and seamless, but conclude that short of having the bow fall out of your hand, this classic work is also impervious to the less than masterful, particularly if the listener has a putty knife and good will.
I have had the bow, or in my case, the drum stick not just fall, but fly out of my hand. I was in a performance and playing the dundun, the West African bass drums. I had two drums tuned about a fifth apart, was holding down the fort as is required by the bass drummer, when to my horror I lost my grip on the stick. It flew away, clattering to the floor. I got up, walked to where it lay, picked it up and went back to playing.
After the show, I relayed my embarrassment to my then boyfriend. He said, ‘What? You dropped the stick?’
So, you see, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear . . .
Part 4 The moral of the story
About those out of season, out of place rose colored lilies that showed up so prominently in my dream? They’re me. I’m working ‘it,’ somewhere other than the usual. Some part of me recognizes this and chose the most iconic of resurrection symbols to tell me so.*
*Postscript. The color of the lilies mystified me and I knew it wasn’t random. As I sat in my Italian language lesson today watching my teacher write I realized I was looking at the color. It was her nail polish, something I had admired the week before. Yup that’s the color alright, and I’m clearly under construction via the language of Italy.
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