It’s rained a little, the past couple of days, most notably on Olivia and I when we got stuck at Piazza Signoria under a roof that sheltered a huge flock of tourists waiting out the storm among the smorgasbord of Renaissance sculpture reproductions, plus a couple of capitalistic Italians selling pastel ponchos.
Then, yesterday afternoon, it rained again. Instead of putting a damper on my 12-mile run before dinner, it energized me. I really have no words to describe the exhilaration of running along the Arno, breathing in cool air, seeing Florence’s colors muted but no less lovely, listening to Stars’ album Set Yourself on Fire. (Joe or Jordan, if you’re reading this, I know you’ll understand the music’s effect.)
As a side note, on my way back from that run, three young Italian women were heading in the other direction and guess what one of them did? She smiled at me! The grin was so unmistakable that she was probably not an Italian at all, but I’m going to believe she was. The other day, I wrote a fairly mediocre poem with the theme of desiring human connection in this city. The first couple of lines begin, “I want to smile at a / stranger.” Well, I did get my wish.
Tonight, I’m exhausted. I was just thinking that the exhaustion was unexplainable, but actually it’s very obvious why I’m tired. Three packed days this weekend, and a 12-mile run on Monday. I expect myself to be in a constant state of energy and vivacity, and that is just not going to be the case all the time. My trip to Sicily was cancelled this weekend, and instead of feeling disappointment, I feel total relief. Two burdens, of expense and of lengthy travel, were lifted off my shoulders. Now I’m counting down to this weekend: I don’t want to travel further than the surrounding area, definitely to see Olivia in Cortona, then perhaps we’ll continue to Siena, or to Cinque Terre for a day (or two..) at the beach.
Though the school workload isn’t terribly heavy, I have so much to think about all the time. Exhibitions to see at art galleries, churches to go into, how to form a sentence in Italian, how to manufacture the motivation to run day… after day… after day, planning travel, planning to receive friends in town. It’s not that I’m getting stressed by thinking about all these things, because they’re all wonderful, it’s just that they’re tiring me out. I can’t imagine what the kids who go out to bars and discotecas every night must feel like…. my host family thinks it’s funny that I study in my room after dinner, but I need the quiet time with my books and emails from loved ones to continue feeling like myself. And the weekends? A fun dinner out with my sweet girlfriends (Val, Kirsten, Laura, that’s you!), perhaps a stroll around to admire the beauty of the city at night, but then you better believe I’ll be tucked in at home by 11. (Mom and Dad, I’m not just saying that because you’re reading. ‘Tis the 100% truth.)
Maybe that’s the next adjustment and lesson on this journey: how to keep doing all the fun things in this city, in a state of exhaustion. Or how to restore my mind, heart, and soul so as to live healthfully and wholly.
Love to all,
P.S. I’ve been reflecting a lot on my experiences this weekend (Assisi more so than Ravenna) and wrote about them both in my travel journal, and in correspondence to friends, so I’ll try to take a minute to transcribe some of those thoughts in a post tomorrow morning. Until then, the first photo is of the church called San Vitale, in Ravenna. Its mosaics are Byzantine, laid at the end of the Roman Empire and influenced by the art of Constantinople/Istanbul. The second photo is Olivia and I, at the organic farmer’s market we discovered (my idea of heaven), with sandwiches from Florence’s best-kept secret, an out-of-the-way panini bar.